[MARMAM] LDEO seismic surveys in SE Asia (FR 78294): review details and new comment deadline

William Rossiter rossiter at csiwhalesalive.org
Thu Jan 29 04:27:16 PST 2009

*LDEO seismic surveys in SE Asia (FR 78294): review details and new 
comment deadline*


In a recent letter, Dr John Wang described concerns over a series of 
marine seismic surveys using a large airgun array from the /Langseth,/ 
planned for the waters of SE Asia (including the EEZs of Japan, Taiwan, 
China and the Philippines) from March 21 to July 14 2009 by the 
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) at Columbia University, as part 
of the TAIGER project. These surveys are believed to have the potential 
to impact, in some cases quite significantly, on a considerable number 
of vulnerable, poorly understood or in some cases critically endangered 
populations of cetaceans in the highly biodiverse yet relatively poorly 
studied waters of this region.


Please note that previous L-DEO seismic surveys have not attracted 
sufficient scientific critique of unverified assertions in their 
authorization requests, and future L-DEO seismic surveys are planned for 
other regions. This current authorization request therefore represents 
an opportunity to improve the science and mitigations for future 
worldwide seismic surveys, as well as for this SE Asia project.


Many local and international scientists and other interest groups 
learned only in early January that LDEO had proposed the survey and had 
applied to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in the US for an 
Incidental Harassment Authorisation (IHA) to 'take' small numbers of 
cetaceans during these SE Asia surveys. After a number of individuals 
and groups expressed concern, an extension on the comment period was 
granted, with the new deadline being *_1700 EST on 5^th February 2009_*.


A review of the Environmental Assessment for the project is provided 
below. The author of this review does not share the conclusion by LDEO 
that the impacts of these seismic surveys on local marine mammals will 
be minimal, and highlights the potential impacts on several marine 
mammal species including the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (/Sousa 
chinensis/), beaked whales (Ziphiidae), sperm whale, (/Physeter 
macrocephalus/), finless porpoise (/Neophocaena spp./), western gray 
whale (/Eschrichtius robustus/), North Pacific right whale, (/Eubalaena 
japonica/), Western North Pacific blue whale, (/Balaenoptera musculus/), 
Western North Pacific Humpback Whale, (/Megaptera novaeangliae/) and 
others. The author also describes problematic aspects such as the timing 
the proposed surveys and proposed mitigation measures.


For any of you who have an interest in one or more of the potentially 
affected species, populations or regions, you are invited to read this 
review and address any questions or concerns to NMFS by the above deadline.



Michael Payne, Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, 
Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 
East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD, 20910--3225. The mailbox address 
for providing email comments is _PR1.0648--_XL89 at noaa.gov 
<mailto:XL89 at noaa.gov> or michael.payne at noaa.gov 
<mailto:michael.payne at noaa.gov>.


To receive updates on further developments related to this alert, please 
contact Christina MacFarquhar at Wild at Heart Legal Defense 
Association, Taiwan, chrisgagele at gmail.com.


The Federal Register notice and additional documents related to this 
activity can be found at the following NMFS web-pages:
Federal Register notice: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/fr/fr73-78294.pdf
Application: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/taiger_iha.pdf
EA: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/taiger_ea.pdf

The direct link to the detailed, scientific review of the authorization 
proposal is:
This review is too long to be included in the text of this email message.
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