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Summary of Seismic and Marine Mammals Workshop
London, 23-25th June 1998


  • Oil and gas industry operators and geophysical contractors (AMJIG and IAGC)
  • Regulatory and non-governmental conservation groups (JNCC, NERC-SMRU and IFAW)


Almost 100 delegates from across Europe, with some from the Far East and USA. With expertise in geophysics, marine biology, oil and gas operations, environmental regulators and related disciplines.


To develop a common understanding amongst participants from widely differing backgrounds and interests, of the interaction between seismic operations and marine mammals.


Through presentations, work groups and plenary discussions, the three-day session aimed to:

  • Review existing research and current areas of concern
  • Identify gaps in knowledge
  • Consider future research needs and the direction of regulatory trends


The workshop proceedings together with a number of recommendations will be published in 2001.

During the workshop there were a number of requests and suggestions made which, in overview, fall into three main categories:

  • Request for further data sharing:
    • Industry should study and make available measurements of the broad band spectrum of the air gun sources in use
    • More data and a better understanding of marine mammal distribution, natural behaviour and auditory capability, this will be partially accomplished by completion of JNCC database
    • Development of an accessible historical database of relevant aspects of seismic activity

  • Requests for specific research and development effort:
    • To design sources that minimise the non-useable seismic band width output
    • To critically evaluate alternative seismic sources
    • To establish a working group to further develop and distribute observational protocols (for both visual and acoustic methods)

  • Requests for reviewing operational practices:
    • Use minimum source power compatible with imaging subsurface targets and review effectiveness of soft start
    • Encourage use of acoustic methods in monitoring of safety zones and in improving cetacean databases
    • Improved and transparent process for seismic permits, with due consideration of environmental assessments and consultation feedback.

It was further proposed that the IAGC world-wide environmental guidelines should be reviewed in light of the workshop outcomes and that another workshop should be reconvened in 2 years. This work continues.

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