AB prepress abstract  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00688

Mitigation provisions to be implemented for marine seismic surveying in Latin America: a review based on fish and cetacea

Alberto Acosta*, Nelsy Niño-Rodríguez, Maria Camila Yepes, Oliver Boisseau

*Email: laacosta@javeriana.edu.co.

ABSTRACT: Population growth and economic development in Latin America has led to an increase in seismic surveying to find new marine hydrocarbon reserves. However, most countries along the Pacific, Atlantic and Caribbean lack the standards to minimize the impact of seismic exploration on marine organisms. We searched primary and secondary literature in major databases and consulted international authorities and oil companies to provide scientific evidence of the effects of seismic surveying on fish and cetaceans in order to propose minimum guidelines to reduce disturbance to marine organisms in Latin America. The results suggest that seismic surveys can disrupt basic life-cycle activities such as movement, communication and feeding. Typical outcomes include sub-lethal effects such as escape behavior, habituation, temporary loss of hearing, and changes in vocalization behavior. In order to mitigate these impacts, we propose that oil companies must provide authorities with an Environmental Impact Assessment that includes survey data, array specifications, and acoustic array properties before a hydrocarbon exploration license can be granted. Standard mitigation measures such as exclusion zone, marine mammal observers, and passive acoustic monitoringmust be implemented to prevent potential adverse effects. Appropriate legislation and regulations must be designed and implemented, and environmental authorities should be privy to all activities by seismic vessels. Besides relevant regulations and continued monitoring, further investigation must be conducted to evaluate the impact of these activities on marine organisms. The adoption of the proposed minimum guidelines is highly recommended to minimize seismic impact in Latin American countries.