JNCC guidelines for minimising the risk of injury and disturbance to marine mammals from seismic surveys: we can do better

Andrew J. Wright, A. Mel Cosentino

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20 Citations (Scopus)


The U.K.'s Joint Nature Conservation Committee 1998 guidelines for minimising acoustic impacts from seismic surveys on marine mammals were the first of their kind. Covering both planning and operations, they included various measures for reducing the potential for damaging hearing – an appropriate focus at the time. Since introduction, the guidelines have been criticised for, among other things: the arbitrarily-sized safety zones; the lack of shut-down provisions; the use of mitigation measures that introduce more noise into the environment (e.g., soft-starts); inadequate observer training; and the lack of standardised data collection protocols. Despite the concerns, the guidelines have remained largely unchanged. Moreover, increasing scientific recognition of the scope and magnitude of non-injurious impacts of sound on marine life has become much more widespread since the last revisions in 2010. Accordingly, here we present feasible and realistic recommendations for such improvements, in light of the current state of knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-239
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number1
Early online date10 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • seismic survey guidelines
  • mitigation measures
  • marine mammals
  • impact
  • noise

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