#whales IFAW’s response to Seismic Testing off WA’s coastline.


(Sydney, 14 September 2012) IFAW is disappointed that the Singapore based petroleum company, Arcadia, has been allowed to carry out seismic surveying off Albany WA, a known Sperm Whale feeding ground.

The approved testing area covers 4,850 sq km and is about 30 km south of the Bremer Bay, an area frequented by Sperm Whales all year round. The 100 metre Norwegian seismic ship Ramform Sterling, will sound blast the ocean bed every 11 seconds at 229 decibels and will trail 14 hydrophones (each 120metres apart) on 8,000 metre lines. It is expected to arrive in the Bremer Basin in November and will continue testing for two months.

“At every level, this is a whale fail from the Department of Environment. The Bremer Basin is accepted as a Sperm Whale feeding ground, yet was not given protection under the recently developed SW Marine Bioregional Plan, putting the whales at risk from poorly regulated oil and gas development. Petroleum companies like Arcadia should be made to demonstrate that their proposed development will not put marine life at risk from the loud noise created by the ship’s air guns.” said Isabel McCrea, Regional Director at IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare).

Isabel McCrea concludes: “Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM), combined with visual observations would greatly increase chances of detecting these gentle giants as demonstrated by the widespread use of this method in numerous scientific surveys. If ever there was an occasion when we would expect the Government to insist PAM should be used, this was it.”

“As it currently stands, the proposal from Arcadia and subsequent requirements from the Department of Environment do not employ the most effective methods to detect Sperm Whales or present a scientifically based approach to risk reduction. Given the failure of the current environmental protection system to do so, we hope the new statutory agency NOPSEMA will step in and reassess Arcadia’s plans to ensure that a more robust protocol is in place to detect Sperm Whales feeding in the area.”

“The Australian government has missed an opportunity to demonstrate that they use best practice by adopting a more robust and considered approach to seismic testing. An approach that includes the mandatory use of new technology like PAM would be a step forward. In contract New Zealand, our Trans-Tasman neighbours are ahead of the game with mandatory use of PAM included in their newly developed seismic survey code.”

Rebekka Thompson-Jones | Communications Manager

Bremer seismic release.pdf

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