Seismic survey policy should be evidence and science based

A proposed ban on seismic surveys is a disproportionate response to a non-existent problem, according to the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ).

“It’s pleasing there will be an exemption for existing exploration and mining permits,” says PEPANZ CEO John Carnegie.

“However it’s hard to see why there needs to be a blanket ban on new surveys given they are already strictly regulated and there is no evidence of any permanent harm to dolphins.

“We support policy that is based around evidence and science. This is the best way to ensure we protect Maui and Hector dolphins, as well as protecting local jobs and our energy security.

“It’s important we don’t deter international investment interest in New Zealand at a time when our economy needs all the help it can get in rebuilding from the impacts of Covid-19.

“The Government’s own discussion paper acknowledges there is no evidence of harm to dolphins from seismic surveys, and no man-made causes of death apart from toxoplasmosis and fishing.

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with the Government to reach decisions that achieve a better balance.”  

Background information  

*Offshore seismic surveys are a commonly used tool for mapping geological information beneath the seabed, including earthquake fault-lines and potential oil and natural gas reserves.

*All surveys abide by the Department of Conservation (DOC)’s Code of Conduct which is regarded as one of the most stringent and precautionary in the world.

*Passive Acoustic Monitoring systems (PAM) operate 24 hours a day to detect and track marine mammals and there are two independent visual observers onboard every vessel. Operations are stopped immediately if any mammals of concern come within certain zones and any sightings are reported to DOC.