3D Marine seismic surveys (MSS) are typically used by the petroleum industry to locate potential oil and gas deposits. In Australia, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) requires an Environmental Plan (EP) be developed to demonstrate that the MSS will be carried out in a manner that is consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development, and that the environmental impacts and risks associated with the MSS will be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable. However, during the public consultation phase of the EP, there is often a perceived conflict between the proponents of the survey and the fishing industry, with the later party often concerned that the survey will harm the fishery stocks and their livelihoods. As such, there is a need to break the continual cycle where each EP seemingly triggers the same ill feeling and distrust from the fishing industry. One possible way to do this is to introduce new seismic sources or ways of using current sources, such that some or all of the potential impacts are mitigated. While there are new seismic sources and source designs that should lessen any impact on animals, these have not been tested with animals anywhere in the world and have never been tested or used in Australia in general and only sparsely overseas. As such there is an urgent need to compare a current industry standard seismic array to arrays using alternate sources of seismic signals or different source designs to determine the relative impact of each on marine animals, while also comparing the quality of the geophysical records obtained from each source. This approach would put Australian fisheries management, NOPSEMA, Australian Oil and Gas, the fishing industry, etc. ahead of the game of determining what alternate sources will reduce conflict between two key industries. It would also move us into a position to start mitigating the impacts of seismic surveys, rather than the situation we currently have, where each individual seismic survey causes a large amount of angst between a large number of stake holders.
Project number: 2021-028
Budget expenditure: $998,608.00
Principal Investigator: Ryan Day
Organisation: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) Hobart
Project start/end date: 23 Sep 2021 - 22 Sep 2023