The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was enacted in 1972 in response to increasing concerns about the decline in some species of marine mammals. The Act was intended to help marine mammal species that were in decline as a result of human activities, such as overhunting, overfishing and unscrupulous trade.
Unfortunately, vague language and regulatory loopholes have allowed some organizations to misuse the Act for their own agendas. The goal of this exploitation has little to do with the protection of marine mammals. Rather, it is intended to halt offshore energy exploration by using the MMPA to create restrictions to geophysical science and mapping. So, while the MMPA was never designed to regulate marine sound and surveys, today the geophysical industry is heavily restricted by the Act. The industry does not seek to be exempt from the original intent of the Act, but rather it seeks to be treated equitably and have decisions rendered that are based on the best available science and not politics.
Seismic surveying technology has been used extensively around the world for over 50 years, with no known detrimental impact to marine life or commercial fishing. Seismic surveying activity is an essential component of responsible energy resource development and helps reduce the overall environmental footprint associated with energy exploration. Seismic surveying also assists in the planning and installation of offshore renewable facilities and provides valuable data on the dynamic processes that shape our oceans and coasts.
“To date, there has been no documented scientific evidence of noise from acoustic sources used in seismic activities adversely affecting marine animal populations or coastal communities.”
-Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)