WASHINGTON, D.C. – Litigation surrounding the use of seismic surveys in the Gulf of Mexico has resulted in an industry agreement to avoid the use of seismic tools in specific areas deemed important to whales and dolphins for 30 months.
An Associated Press report of the agreement says the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has determined the air gun noise reduced sperm whale feeding and affects groups of bottlenose dolphins.
The API, however, points out that noise from seismic surveying is comparable to much other natural and man-made noise in the water and that 40 years of seismic surveying and scientific research show no evidence that the seismic noise has injured any marine mammal species.
“We are pleased that the parties to this litigation were able to work together to resolve this matter,” said Erik Milito, API director of upstream and industry operations. “Industry looks forward to working with government regulators to ensure that seismic operations in the Gulf of Mexico continue to be conducted in an operationally effective and environmentally responsible manner.”
The areas affected are the Mississippi and DeSoto canyons and areas west of the Florida Keys and Torgugas. Near-coast waters visited by dolphins also are included.
The 30-month period will give the government time for environmental studies and give the industry time for research into alternatives, both required as part of the agreement, Michael Jasny, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project told AP. His group, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Gulf Restoration Network, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club, joined in suing BOEM to stop seismic surveys after the oil spill.
API, the International Association of Geophysical Contractors, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and the U.S. Oil & Gas Association joined the federal government in the suit.