In New Zealand the ‘2013 code of conduct for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals from seismic survey operations’, the Code, has varying mitigation measures for different categories of marine mammals (DOC 2013). The most stringent mitigation measures apply to ‘species of concern with calves’, ‘species of concern without calves’, and ‘other marine mammals’. A full list of marine mammals designated as species of concern is found in the table below. For general information on the Code, please see www.codeofconductseismicnewzealand.co.nz.
|Common name||Scientific name|
|Southern right whale||Eubalaena australis|
|Pygmy right whale||Caperea marginata|
|Humpback whale||Megaptera novaeangliae|
|Dwarf minke whale||Balaenoptera acutorostrata subsp.|
|Antarctic minke whale||Balaenoptera bonaerensis|
|Bryde’s whale||Balaenoptera edeni|
|Sei whale||Balaenoptera borealis|
|Fin whale||Balaenoptera physalus|
|Blue whale||Balaenoptera musculus|
|Pygmy blue whale||Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda|
|Sperm whale||Physeter macrocephalus|
|Pygmy sperm whale||Kogia breviceps|
|Dwarf sperm whale||Kogia sima|
|Cuvier’s beaked whale||Ziphius cavirostris|
|Arnoux’s beaked whale||Berardius arnuxii|
|Shepherd’s beaked whale||Tasmacetus shepherdi|
|Southern bottlenose whale||Hyperoodon planifrons|
|Hector’s beaked whale||Mesoplodon hectori|
|True’s beaked whale||Mesoplodon mirus|
|Gray’s beaked whale||Mesoplodon grayi|
|Pygmy/Peruvian beaked whale||Mesoplodon peruvianus|
|Andrew’s beaked whale||Mesoplodon bowdoini|
|Ginkgo-toothed Whale||Mesoplodon gingkodens|
|Strap-toothed whale||Mesoplodon layardii|
|Blainville’s beaked whale||Mesoplodon densirostris|
|Hector’s dolphin||Cephalorhynchus hectori|
|Maui’s dolphin||Cephalorhynchus hectori maui|
|Bottlenose dolphin||Tursiops truncatus|
|Southern right-whale dolphin||Lissodelphis peronii|
|Melon-headed whale||Peponocephala electra|
|Pygmy killer whale||Feresa attenuata|
|False killer whale||Pseudorca crassidens|
|Killer whale||Orcinus orca|
|Long-finned pilot whale||Globicephala melas|
|Short-finned pilot whale||Globicephala macrorhynchus|
|New Zealand sea lion||Phocarctos hookeri|
The more stringent mitigation measures that apply to species of concern under the Code include larger mitigation zones and longer periods of time where they must be clear of animals before the seismic source is activated.
When arriving at a new location during level 1 surveys (www.nzlevel1seismicsurveys.co.nz) in poor sighting conditions, the mitigation zone must be clear of species of concern for two hours immediately preceding the start-up of proposed seismic airgun activation. In contrast, the mitigation zone for other marine mammals only needs to be clear for 30 minutes, and 10 minutes for New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri).
MMIA & REPORTING
Extra attention is given to species of concern during all stages of seismic surveys, starting with the planning stage Marine Mammal Impact Assessment (MMIA; www.marinemammalimpactassessment.co.nz). An MMIA must consider how species of concern use the proposed seismic survey areas and avoid, where possible, important biological periods such as breeding, calving, and migration.
During seismic surveys, Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operators must inform the Director-General of Conservation if there are high numbers of cetaceans or species of concern within the area.
OTHER MARINE MAMMALS
In the Code, other marine mammals are defined as those not designated as a species of concern. Other marine mammals will most often be New Zealand fur seal, common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), and dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus). These marine mammals are not included in the list of species of concern, as they occur in large numbers around New Zealand, and have been observed in close proximity to vessels during active seismic surveys.
|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.|