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seismic surveys in SE Asia

Subject: seismic surveys in SE Asia
From: Dave Mellinger <>
Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2009 15:00:00 -0800
This is forwarded from William Rossiter, 

Subject: LDEO seismic surveys in SE Asia (FR 78294): review
        details and new comment deadline
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 07:27:16 -0500
From: William Rossiter <>

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 <> or <>.

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

The Federal Register notice and additional documents related to this activity can be found at the following NMFS web-pages:
Federal Register notice:

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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