Mitigation measures to reduce potential impacts on marine mammals are required for seismic survey activity occurring in Canadian waters. “The Statement of Canadian Practice with Respect to the Mitigation of Seismic Sound in the Marine Environment” was implemented in 2008 and functions as a minimum standard practice for seismic operations occurring in non-ice covered marine waters in Canadian jurisdiction¹. Canadian offshore oil and gas regulators; the Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) and Canada – Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NSOPB) adopted "The Statement" in 2008 and require operators to implement mitigation measures as outlined. "The Statement" addresses the increasing concern regarding potential effects of the airgun sound produced during seismic surveys as these are typically high amplitude, low frequency acoustic waves that overlap extensively with a number of marine mammal species’ functioning frequencies². Within Canada, "The Statement" requires that during seismic operations a “qualified” Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) must be present on board and visually observe for the presence of marine mammals before and during all seismic operations.
Until the incorporation of EDGEWISE there existed no dedicated Canadian Marine Mammal Observer course. Canadian MMO training and qualifications should be standardized, as they are in the UK and Gulf of Mexico however, such standardization has yet to be put in place in Canada ¹. Development of a standardized MMO training and qualification program in Canada would enhance the effectiveness of observers and therefore the probability of detecting listed cetacean species within the safety zone. Additionally, such a program would ensure that high-quality data is collected and reported to support further research on the seismic survey impacts on cetaceans and the efficacy of the mitigation measures used ¹˒³.
The same lack of standardization exists in relation to Seabird Observers (SO) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operators. It is regularly required that MMO’s also act as SO’s during seismic operations within Canada and rarely are separate personnel hired.
Although PAM is recognized as a potentially valuable detection technique within most of the regional guidelines, its full potential use in seismic mitigation is not yet realized ². There is currently no standardized training program for PAM Operators under any global regulatory body, though courses are available. These courses are not recognized by a governing agency. Despite this lack of standardized training multiple government departments, regulatory bodies and personnel publishing within academia acknowledge the need for such, as well as the use of PAM as a mitigation tool.
Given this gap in the market of offshore environmental mitigation training within Canada, specifically, EDGEWISE has developed a robust and rigorous program for Canadian Marine Mammal Observers, Seabird Observers and PAM Operators.
Click HERE to view references.