IWDG Concerned over Seismic Survey of Corrib Gasfield

30th May 2012

IWDG has made a complaint to the Minister Pat Rabbitte, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the European Commission about a proposed 100 day seismic survey in the Corrib gas field, off County Mayo.

Seismic pulses can cause harm to whales, dolphins and porpoises.

This seismic survey will emit acoustic explosions repeated continuously every 50 metres for 100 days in an area 122km2, 65km off the coast of Mayo. 21 cetacean species have been recorded off County Mayo. Whales, dolphins and porpoises depend upon sound to navigate the ocean, find food, avoid predators, and communicate. Sound is their primary sense, so hearing is of key importance to these animals.

Baseline information about whales, dolphins and porpoises has not been collected to address previously identified data gaps
in the offshore Corrib field area.

Under Annex IV of the Habitats Directive all cetacean species are strictly protected.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists several of these as endangered species, including the northern right whale, the blue whale, fin whale, sei whale, humpback whale and sperm whale.

The mitigation proposed is inadequate for species protection. The mitigation controls proposed are not sufficient. An environmental effect monitoring program is needed to assess the effect of the seismic survey on the endangered cetacean species in the affected area.

Monitoring is crucial to the application of the strict protection system required under Article 12 of the Habitats Directive. Environmental effects monitoring is appropriate to scientifically evaluate the impacts on the cetaceans. The Petroleum Affairs Division and DCENR have been negligent in their implementation of Articles 12 and 16 of the Habitats Directive.

The IWDG is seeking an environmental effects monitoring program to acquire baseline data on endangered species in the area and species particularly sensitive to noise pollution.

IWDG is also seeking an increase in the number of qualified Marine Mammal Observer’s for an environmental effects monitoring program for such seismic surveys and requests the government to encourage the oil companies to employ scientists with previous experience in Irish waters.

Shay Fennelly