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Soundings Archive

NMFS Seeks Comment on L-DEO Seismic Permit Requiring PAM
On December 18, 2007, the National Marine Fisheries Service published a proposed Incidental Harassment authorization to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to incidentally take, by Level B harassment only, small numbers of several marine mammals during marine seismic surveys off Central America. The IHA would apply to L-DEO's seismic vessel operations during February through April 2008. The IHA would be issued pursuant to NMFS' authority under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The proposed IHA contains several mitigation requirements, including a requirement that the L-DEO seismic vessel use Passive Acoustic Monitoring of marine mammals, as well as visual observers. NMFS explains this PAM requirement as follows:

    "PAM will take place to complement the visual monitoring program. Visual monitoring typically is not effective during periods of bad weather or at night, and even with good visibility, is unable to detect marine mammals when they are below the surface or beyond visual range. Acoustic monitoring can be used in addition to visual observations to improve detection, identification, localization, and tracking of cetaceans. It is only useful when marine mammals call, but it can be effective either by day or by night and does not depend on good visibility. The acoustic monitoring will serve to alert visual observers (if on duty) when vocalizing cetaceans are detected. It will be monitored in real time so visual observers can be advised when cetaceans are detected. When bearings (primary and mirror-image) to calling cetacean(s) are determined, the bearings will be relayed to the visual observer to help him/her sight the calling animal(s). SEAMAP (Houston, Texas) will be used as the primary acoustic monitoring system."
Comments on the proposed L-DEO IHA are due to NMFS by January 17, 2008.
  • Click here to read NMFS notice of proposed L-DEO IHA

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