Seismic surveys use loud sound to search for features, such as oil and gas, under the sea floor. These sounds have the potential to impact marine mammals in various ways.
Code of Conduct developed in 2012
In 2012 DOC developed a voluntary Code of Conduct for Minimising Acoustic Disturbance to Marine Mammals from Seismic Survey Operations (the Code) following discussions with international and domestic stakeholders representing industry, observers and marine scientists.
The Code and the supporting reference document aim to provide effective, practical mitigation measures for minimising acoustic disturbance of marine mammals during seismic surveys.
The Code has been endorsed as industry best practice by the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ).
Exclusive Economic Zone regulations
Under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects – Permitted Activities) Regulations 2013, seismic surveying is a permitted activity within EEZ waters provided the Code is complied with. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is responsible for monitoring seismic surveys within the EEZ to determine compliance with the Code.
The Code was updated slightly at this time to facilitate this.
For enquiries relating to:
- administration or interpretation of the Code – contact DOC at firstname.lastname@example.org
- compliance with or enforcement of the Code – contact the EPA at email@example.com.
In addition to the six gazetted Marine Mammal Sanctuaries DOC has identified a number of Areas of Ecological Importance for marine mammals based on information in the sightings and strandings databases.
One of the primary objectives of the Code is to contribute to the body of scientific knowledge on the physical and behavioural impacts of seismic surveys on marine mammals through improved, standardised observation and reporting.
Feedback is strongly encouraged from stakeholders concerning any positive or negative experiences encountered while implementing the Code in operational conditions, and will be used to inform future reviews.