The Atlantic Canada offshore oil and natural gas industry follows rigorous environmental standards set by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board. These regulators approve seismic survey work and establish environmental protection conditions for every survey conducted to ensure that offshore seismic surveys are conducted safely, with minimal impact on the marine environment through careful planning and oversight.
As part of the required environmental assessment and protection planning for oil and natural gas activity, companies identify the types of wildlife that may be present in an area where oil and natural gas activity will take place. Companies then identify and implement mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate any potential impacts.
Operators also adhere to the science-based Statement of Canadian Practice with respect to the Mitigation of Seismic Sound in the Marine Environment which outlines requirements that must be met during the planning and conduct of marine seismic surveys in order to minimize impacts ocean life.
Industry, government and academia have been conducting research on the impact of seismic surveys on marine life for many years and research is ongoing. To date, research has identified no long-term adverse effects on marine mammal populations. Research has also shown that seismic surveys conducted with recommended mitigation measures in place are unlikely to pose significant risk of mortality to marine organisms. The Review of Scientific Information on Impacts of Seismic Sound on Fish, Invertebrates, Marine Turtles and Marine Mammals provides more information on research on the effects of seismic surveys on marine life.
The industry, however, continues to apply mitigation measures such as powering down seismic equipment (e.g. air source arrays) if an endangered or threatened marine species is observed in the water (as outlined in the Species at Risk Act).
The industry also continues to support numerous research projects dedicated to increasing knowledge on the potential impacts of seismic exploration on the marine environment. Through the Environmental Studies Research Fund, the industry has been funding research on seismic effects for many years. Research funding is also provided through the Offshore Energy Research Association of Nova Scotia and through Petroleum Research Newfoundland & Labrador, including seismic research.