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Sonic impact: a precautionary assessment of noise pollution from ocean seismic surveys

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... In the early regulatory battles around sonar, proponents of noise-producing projects disregarded concerns around animal behavior. "Unknown" biological impacts of ocean noise were translated into "no impact" (Cummings and Brandon 2004). New research made this position hard to defend. ...
... Not only do these tools provide a basis for powerful appeals that "regulators work within existing statutory mandates, rather than to conceive of a strategy premised upon a comprehensive ocean noise regulatory scheme that does not exist", they normalize risk within these mandates (API-IAGC 2016:6). By being able to provide regulators with risk scenarios previously unavailable, data-driven forms of ocean noise risk are mitigating against institutional inclusion of scientific "uncertainty" (Cummings and Brandon 2004). They are providing grounds for disregarding the precautionary principle marine biologists have long advocated for in the context of ocean noise (Weilgart 2007b). ...
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Scientific evidence suggests that rising levels of anthropogenic underwater sound ("ocean noise") produced by industrial activities are causing a range of injuries to marine animals-in particular, whales. These developments have forced states and development proponents into acknowledging ocean noise as a threat to marine economic activity. This paper delivers a Gramsci-inspired critique of the modernizations of ocean noise regulation being wrought by science, state and politics. Gramsci was acutely interested in the dynamic and social nature of scientific research, and his writings affirm science's powers and ambitions. At the same time, he was keen to observe how science participates in the process he called hegemony. Using examples drawn from Canada's West Coast, I suggest that capital is engaging ocean noise not only as a regulatory problem issuing from legal duties and legitimacy concerns, but opportunities linked to the commercialization of ocean science.
... In the early regulatory battles around sonar, proponents of noise-producing projects disregarded concerns around animal behavior. "Unknown" biological impacts of ocean noise were translated into "no impact" (Cummings and Brandon 2004). New research made this position hard to defend. ...
... Not only do these tools provide a basis for powerful appeals that "regulators work within existing statutory mandates, rather than to conceive of a strategy premised upon a comprehensive ocean noise regulatory scheme that does not exist", they normalize risk within these mandates (API-IAGC 2016:6). By being able to provide regulators with risk scenarios previously unavailable, data-driven forms of ocean noise risk are mitigating against institutional inclusion of scientific "uncertainty" (Cummings and Brandon 2004). They are providing grounds for disregarding the precautionary principle marine biologists have long advocated for in the context of ocean noise (Weilgart 2007b). ...
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Music can enrich geographical efforts to understand ideology as a lived experience. This paper explores the history of whale music – instrumental music that samples or thematizes whale sound. For environmentalists who came of age in the late 1960s, whale music fostered new interrogations about the identity of nature and the nature of identity, interrogations that reflected structural changes in North American society. To understand whale music’s surprising ideological power, I draw on Althusser’s formative idea of interpellation, and refine it with insights from Antonio Gramsci, John Mowitt, and Neil Smith. As examples from British Columbia’s Lower Mainland and California’s Bay Area reveal, whale music interpellated environmentalists, capturing the energies of predominantly white middle-class subjects eager to develop new relationships with nature. Whale music was not discovered, as its devotees proposed it was, but invented, through a combination of animal sounds, recording techniques, consumer trends, and ideologies of nature. It reveals environmentalism as a sonorous formation – a system that recruits listeners into sonically-mediated realms of thought, action, and subjectivity.
... In the last decades, the marine scientific community has developed an increasing concern over the anthropogenic noise intensification in the oceans as an important threat to biodiversity and animal welfare (e.g., Cummings and Brandon, 2004;IWC SC, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017Hawkins, 2016, 2012;Simmonds et al., 2014;Williams et al., 2015). Very far from Jacques Cousteau's 'Silent World', our oceans are a realm of sound -which travels far better underwater than light does. ...
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Marine Seismic Surveys are an important source of concern for marine biodiversity conservation worldwide. In Brazil, Environmental Federal Agency IBAMA has developed a considerably advanced mitigation/monitoring requirements package in 18 years of environmental licensing practice, with standardized guidelines since 2005. Adding to global efforts aiming at filling knowledge gaps over the impacts on biodiversity, IBAMA has been able to foster important marine research through environmental licensing requirements. Better communication of research findings to the international scientific community remains a challenge to be addressed. Nevertheless, current institutional and legal reforming initiatives jeopardize the evolution of environmental control of Marine Seismic Surveys in Brazil.
Thesis
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Este trabalho busca analisar a evolução da prática de avaliação ambiental de pesquisas sísmicas marítimas no Brasil, notadamente realizada no âmbito do processo de licenciamento ambiental federal da atividade. Para tal, inicialmente caracteriza-se o estado-da-arte do conhecimento técnico-científico sobre a tecnologia e sobre os seus impactos ambientais. Posteriormente, é realizada uma revisão conceitual sobre o processo de Avaliação de Impacto Ambiental. Em seguida, detalha-se a experiência internacional sobre o assunto em três países selecionados: Estados Unidos da América, Canadá e Noruega. A evolução do modelo brasileiro de avaliação ambiental, incluindo o estabelecimento de um marco regulatório, é registrada em suas dimensões técnica, legal e institucional. A discussão dos resultados compara o modelo brasileiro com a experiência internacional e com a situação anterior à Resolução CONAMA n° 350/04, à luz das melhores práticas de avaliação ambiental. A conclusão aponta diversos ganhos obtidos a partir da regulamentação do licenciamento da atividade, mas também identifica importantes problemas a serem encarados como desafio pelos gestores. É sugerido ainda que o Brasil se encontra em um patamar excelente de desempenho frente à experiência internacional, considerando a rápida evolução do modelo nacional de avaliação ambiental de pesquisas sísmicas e o destaque em pontos como mitigação do impacto na biota marinha e a mediação do conflito com a atividade pesqueira artesanal. A título de recomendações, são identificadas algumas oportunidades para aperfeiçoamento do processo, mas considera-se que não há necessidade imediata de revisão conceitual da Resolução CONAMA n° 350/04.
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There are seven species of sea turtles around the world. Among these, five visit the northeast coast of Brazil to reproduce and feed. These sea turtles are impacted by human activity and need conservation measures. The seismic survey is one of these activities due to its high intensity and low frequency sound emissions in the marine environment. Records of sea turtles during seismic surveys in shallow waters of the northeast of Brazil between 2002 and 2003 are presented in this study with some discussion about the effectiveness of the monitoring procedures. Three species of sea turtle were recorded within the seismic survey areas. The Chelonia mydas species was the most commonly sighted turtle. There was only one record of Caretta caretta and Lepidochelys olivacea. The presence of sea turtles in Sergipe state was linked to the reproductive period while this pattern was not observed in Ceará state. The absence of information about distribution and abundance of sea turtles in the surveyed areas previous to and after the seismic surveys, as well as numerous incomplete data make it hard to identify the effect of seismic surveys on those factors and also sea turtle behaviors.
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There is no comprehensive system of describing threats and disturbances currently used in Australia, despite the widespread impacts of human activities on natural ecosystems. Yet a detailed categorization would facilitate the collation of threatening process information into information systems; enable standardized collection and availability of data; and enable comparative analyses of ecosystem condition between stakeholders, agencies, states, and nations, particularly for environmental reporting and evaluation mechanisms such as State of the Environment. As part of the Queensland Wetlands Programme (QWP), a threat and disturbance framework was developed, focused on the pressure and impacts components of the DPSIR (driver-pressure-state-impacts-response) framework. A wetland inventory database was developed also that included a detailed threat and disturbance categorization using the QWP framework. The categorization encompasses a broad range of anthropogenic and natural processes, and is hierarchical to accommodate varying levels of detail or knowledge. By incorporating detailed qualitative and quantitative information, a comprehensive threats and disturbances categorization can contribute to conceptual or spatially explicit knowledge and management assessments. The application of the framework and categorization to several threatening processes is demonstrated, and its relationship to current natural resource condition indicators is discussed. Threat evaluation is an essential component of ecological assessment and environmental management, and a standardized categorization enables consistency in attributing processes, impacts and their short- to long-term consequences. Such a systematic framework and categorization demonstrates the importance and usefulness of comprehensive approaches, and this approach can be readily adapted to management, monitoring and evaluation of other target ecosystems and biota.
Report on the regulatory and mitigation process and costs for a geology survey off the California coast using a small (40 cubic inch) airgun: http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/1999/08/fieldwork2.html 62 See Canadian and UK reports on mitigation measures: Department of Trade and Industry
  • Usgs See
  • Soundwaves Newsletter
See USGS Soundwaves newsletter (11/1999): Report on the regulatory and mitigation process and costs for a geology survey off the California coast using a small (40 cubic inch) airgun: http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/1999/08/fieldwork2.html 62 See Canadian and UK reports on mitigation measures: Department of Trade and Industry, UK (2003), Turnpenny, et al (2002) 63
02, the IAGC was engaged in an active dialogue with MMS in order to bring the new regulations in line with standards in force in other regions, including the North Sea Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sales
77 According to the Oil and Gas Journal, 8/19/02, the IAGC was engaged in an active dialogue with MMS in order to bring the new regulations in line with standards in force in other regions, including the North Sea. 78 Minerals Management Service (2002). Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sales: 2003-2007, Central and Western Planning Areas, Final Environmental Impact Statement. OCS EIS/EA MMS
examining subsurface geology; a press release from the American Geophysical Union addressing the lawsuit's settlement can be seen at http://geophys.seos.uvic.ca/cassis/Eos.html 4 CASSIS project
  • Lamont-Dougherty
Lamont-Dougherty project examining subsurface geology; a press release from the American Geophysical Union addressing the lawsuit's settlement can be seen at http://geophys.seos.uvic.ca/cassis/Eos.html 4 CASSIS project, http://geophys.seos.uvic.ca/cassis/index.html.
source: Environmental News Service
  • Lamont-Dougherty Project
Lamont-Dougherty project, source: Environmental News Service, 11/17/03