Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel

Seismic Surveys and Noise Task Force

To provide input to Sakhalin Energy’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed 2008 seismic survey, the Panel agreed to establish a Seismic Survey Task Force (SSTF). The primary concern with respect to the proposed seismic survey was ensonification of the gray whale feeding area by sound energy from the airgun pulses. Click here for the task force's terms of reference.

The Task Force held a number of meetings to:

  • Review and analyse noise predictions and estimated whale densities for the proposed seismic surveys in the context of potential effects on the western gray whale population;
  • Develop recommendations for mitigating the impacts of the surveys on gray whales;
  • Develop recommendations for gray whale monitoring during the survey to both minimize effects on the whales in “real time” and contribute to scientific knowledge regarding the effects of seismic surveys on whales.

In 2011, the name of the Seismic Survey Task Force was changed to Noise Task Force to acknowledge that its remit should include all aspects of the noise issue and not exclusively those related to seismic surveys. 

Most recently, NTF-10 meeting took place on 17-18 May 2016, in Gland, Switzerland. The next NTF-11 meeting will take place on 7-8 November 2016, in Moscow, Russia. 


With the support of Sakhalin Energy and thanks to extra funding from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), a brochure on Marine Seismic Surveys - Modern Approaches to Minimizing Risks in Environmentally Sensitive Areas - Sakhalin Case Study was produced. It was first launched and distributed at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Republic of Korea, September 2012, among others, and is available on this website in both English and Russian.

As an outcome of work conducted between 2006 and 2012, a scientific paper Responsible Practices for Minimizing and Monitoring Environmental Impacts of Marine Seismic Surveys with an Emphasis on Marine Mammals was published in the journal Aquatic Mammals at the end of 2013 with a global media release in January 2014 in both English and Russian. Abstract in English and in Russian.



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