More seismic tests in whale habitat to proceed – cautiously

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NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) just announced that the first of three planned acoustic surveys is nearly complete without incident, and that the second survey will proceed, with modifications:

Marine Survey
Here’s an update on the Marine Geophysical Survey by the R/V Marcus G. Langseth in the north Pacific this summer.

The initial offshore leg of the survey is near completion and monitors have not seen any killer whales. NOAA has issued an incidental harassment authorization for a second portion of this survey off the coast of Oregon. This portion will last two days. Conditions of the authorization include monitoring and mitigation measures to protect marine mammals in the survey area, including a requirement to shut-down if any killer whales are sighted or detected acoustically at any distance.
Consultation under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act for one remaining portion of the survey that could overlap with Southern Residents is still underway.

We’re coordinating with NOAA Fisheries Headquarters staff members, who are conducting the consultation and issuing permits, along with the action proponents, to evaluate the proposed activities and information on marine species in the region, including Southern Resident killer whales. NOAA staff members are working closely with the action proponents and have made progress in developing appropriate and necessary monitoring and mitigation measures, including an additional monitoring vessel with observers and incorporating real-time sighting data.

The project team will continue to coordinate with local research groups (i.e., Cascadia and Oregon State University) and sighting networks  [ ] to inform this process.

Check our headquarters web page for more information on the project at Scroll down to see documents posted under “2012 L-DEO Seismic Survey in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.”
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