RECORDING AND REPORTING OF MARINE MAMMALS DURING SEISMIC SURVEYS IN NEW ZEALAND WATERS

Under the New Zealand Government Department of Conservation’s (DOC) ‘2013 code of conduct for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals from seismic survey operations’ (the Code), there are specific guidelines that must be followed when recording and reporting marine mammal sightings and seismic operations (DOC 2013).

Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs; www.marinemammalobservers.co.uk) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operators (www.pamoperators.com) are required to document all operational details (soft start, start of line, end of line, etc.), together with all detections (visual and acoustic) of marine mammals, including those observed in transit and outside the maximum mitigation zone boundaries. A detailed list of observer reporting requirements is found in Appendix 2 of the Code, which can be downloaded from the DOC website (www.doc.govt.nz).

Standardised DOC forms must be used; these can also be obtained from the DOC website (www.doc.govt.nz).

A Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operator completing Department of Conservation (DOC) standardised forms during a seismic survey in New Zealand. © OSC 2014.

A Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operator completing Department of Conservation (DOC) standardised forms during a seismic survey in New Zealand. © OSC 2014.

Observations of other marine species are encouraged, particularly when they have been identified by stakeholders, as being sensitive or of interest.

All raw datasheets must be submitted by the observers to the Director-General (marinemammals@doc.govt.nz) within 14 days of completion of each deployment. A written trip report needs to be submitted by the proponent to the Director-General within 60 days of survey completion.

For a summary of the Code, please see www.codeofconductseismicnewzealand.com

INFORMING THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL

Marine-Mammal-Mitigation-1

A handheld GPS recording vessel tracks during a marine seismic survey in New Zealand. © OSC 2014.

The Director-General must be informed immediately if there are any instances of non-compliance with the Code.

The Director-General is also informed immediately if the qualified observer considers there to be higher numbers of cetaceans and/or species of concern than predicted in the Marine Mammal Impact Assessment (MMIA). In some cases the Director-General may implement further mitigation measures.

MARINE MAMMAL DATA AVAILABLE PUBLICLY

Data on marine mammal detections are made available to the public, usually in summary form. These data are used as a resource for Areas of Ecological Importance (AEI), and in some cases for detailed analytical research.

NEW ZEALAND PETROLEUM & MINERALS

If there are any reporting requirements under the Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Regulations 2007 (www.legislation.govt.nz), they are undertaken separately, and submitted to New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals (www.nzpam.govt.nz/cms).

REFERENCES

DOC (2013) 2013 Code of conduct for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals from seismic survey operations.
p. 36. Publishing Team, Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.