Survey might disturb herring

Herring (pictured here as kippers) might be disturbed

Herring (pictured here as kippers) might be disturbed

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The public have been invited to comment on draft regulations governing seismic surveys carried out in Manx waters.

Seismic surveys use soundwaves to explore the geology of the sea bed.

They gather information about the composition of the sea bed for such projects as oil and gas exploration, wind farms and tidal turbines.

However, seismic waves can impact on whales, dolphins, porpoises and other protected sea life and can disturb herring.

The island’s Marine Infrastructure Management Act 2016 sets out the process by which permission is granted for large marine infrastructure projects.

The Act allows the Department of the Environment, Food and Agriculture to regulate seismic surveys.

In a consultation launched today, DEFA proposes that developers wishing to conduct surveys apply two months in advance and assess the potential impact on protected and commercially important species.

The DEFA would be able to set legally binding conditions when issuing consents, working with developers to plan effective surveys whilst minimising the impact on the environment and other marine users.

Dr Fiona Gell, senior biodiversity officer: marine for the DEFA, said: ‘This would enable us to protect vulnerable species at important times.

‘For example, developers would be made aware of the herring spawning and aggregation period from September to November, particularly for works taking place in the east of Manx waters. ‘Other conditions could include a requirement to have a marine mammal observer on board a survey vessel so that work does not start in an area where such mammals are present.

‘Our intention is not to impede economically important development but to ensure that we work with developers to ensure environmentally and commercially important species are not adversely affected.’

The consultation can be viewed at www.gov.im/consultations Responses should be sent to:

fisheries@gov.im

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