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Framework to incorporate & quantify risks of impacts on marine mammal populations from shipping noise, with an Arctic case study … plus role of the CSAS.

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Presentation on theme: "Framework to incorporate & quantify risks of impacts on marine mammal populations from shipping noise, with an Arctic case study … plus role of the CSAS."— Presentation transcript:

1 Framework to incorporate & quantify risks of impacts on marine mammal populations from shipping noise, with an Arctic case study … plus role of the CSAS process Jack Lawson Science Branch, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, P.O. Box 5667, St. John’s, NL A1C 5X1 (Based partly on “Lawson, J.W. and V. Lesage A draft framework to quantify and cumulate risks of impacts from large development projects for marine mammal populations: A case study using shipping associated with the Mary River Iron Mine project. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2012/154 iv + 22 p. ”)

2 Presentation Overview Marine Development Projects (MDP) have increased dramatically in Canada, and this trend is expected to continue or be exacerbated Assessment of MDP impacts made on a case-by-case basis, without a context of effective thresholds relating them to species or ecosystem productivity, and without consideration of cumulative impacts Growing concern: currently no national approach as to how impacts of industrial projects should be evaluated by DFO Science, which leads to perception of inconsistency Pressing need: develop a national approach to impact assessment, as well as threshold setting, monitoring standards, and development of guidelines for industry that outline minimum information needs for adequate impact assessment This framework will include thresholds for assessing impacts against population productivity in the context of population sustainability, and extended to assess cumulative impacts Case study: Baffinland Iron Mine project as an example of application of a framework to quantify risks of impacts on Arctic mammal populations Implementing Science advice: Varying roles of Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS)

3 Outstanding Issues For DFO Should DFO adopt a unified, national framework for marine project reviews to quantify risks of impacts on mammal populations? –multiple, different international approaches exist if we want to choose an existing method –how to address context-, species-, and activity- related sources of variation in impact thresholds? –how to address regional differences in activities, ecosystems, and regulatory regimes? –is it possible to produce an assessment "tool" to assist the process for proponents and regulators?

4 Assessing Cumulative Impacts Environmental Impact Assessments often don’t attempt to quantify impact levels using exposures, but instead employ a posteriori verification to determine whether a given threshold for population decline is exceeded during the life of a project –usually, thresholds set arbitrarily + not treated as additive by proponents –for almost all species threshold decline values are so small it is difficult to determine whether they have been exceeded, even using best study designs –project effects on mammal populations are not easily detected and if such changes are detected, it may be when project activities have resulted in dramatic population declines - not a precautionary approach! Proposed approach to assess significance of impacts is based on a combination of impacts likelihood and severity if they were to occur However, more quantitative criteria are used to determine the significance of impacts = 1

5 These descriptors are reflective of the conservation status of each species Can calculate cumulative effects of MDPs e.g., consequences from additional ship transits as a result of expansion of an existing MPD or new projects can be assessed quantitatively

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8 Case Study – Baffinland Iron Mine Unprecedented Year-round shipping, regardless of ice Pass through bowhead and other marine mammal aggregations

9 Case Study – Baffinland Iron Mine Distribution data available for bowheads, narwhal, and beluga indicate that shipping routes for large-scale mining developments such as Baffinland, Hopes Advance, and Raglan mines in the Arctic will overlap areas of core use for these species, especially during winter when open water areas and ice leads provide only habitat There is a relatively high abundance of ringed seals and walrus along this shipping route Note: review constrained since more data on marine mammal susceptibility to ship noise Note: less data on marine mammal susceptibility to ship strike

10 Modelling Shipping Noise Risks Exposure to ship-related noise and movement may lead to mortality or other negative effects on marine mammal health, behaviour, and habitat use Key Issue: no field data to assess with certainty the proportion of exposed marine mammals for which effects of shipping noise would detrimentally impact health, reproduction, or survival So: one means to estimate significance of impacts is to determine number of potential individual-exposures relative to total population size another is to determine whether specific segments of population are likely to be impacted more than others (e.g., calving females)

11 Case Study – Baffinland Iron Mine BUT, extrapolating these exposure estimates to “harm” as it relates to marine mammal populations not clearcut With rankings of high magnitude, likelihood, and severity, the “Impact” ranking of this shipping noise exposure will be “High”

12 Case Study – Baffinland Iron Mine Impacts on reproduction or survival of even a few whales could lead to negative impacts on population recovery

13 Conclusions - Baffinland Currently no effectual mitigation measures proposed for Arctic shipping operations to monitor interactions or avoid/reduce potential impacts of shipping on marine mammals So, a portion of several already-vulnerable populations would be exposed to ship noise, with potential consequences to population trajectories Proposed impact assessment framework can help quantify risks of impacts (by bringing in factors such as ship noise) of MDPs on marine mammal populations Impact assessment framework provides a quantitative approach to begin to address the ever-difficult issue of cumulative impacts New, large-scale industrial projects have to be assessed in the context of their potential additions to the overall anthropogenic impacts on marine mammal populations + such impacts should be incorporated into precautionary population management by DFO (and include ALL “users”)

14 Conclusions - A National Framework Model to assess impacts of ship strike could incorporate more factors + informed by better studies in the Arctic Develop national framework for project impact assessment (e.g., severity, likelihood, impact), threshold setting, and monitoring standards Model to assess impacts of shipping noise could be made more robust + extended to encompass other types of anthropogenic noise sources + informed by better studies in the Arctic Develop guidelines for industry that outline the information needed for adequate impact assessment + proposed methodologies for evaluating impacts

15 Improving the Framework Include thresholds for assessing impacts against population productivity, accounting for the conservation status and biology of each species Include uncertainty in input parameters! Implement more complex impacts from multiple activities and for multiple ecosystem components Perhaps allow for ranking/effect scaling for VECs based on socioeconomic or cultural concerns (e.g., lower significant impact threshold?)

16 Implementing the Approach – there’s an App for that? Explicit, quantitative model could ensure that max. number of potentially important considerations are addressed Incorporate elements of risk & uncertainty Could be used by proponents and regulators to highlight particular issues or impacts that could warrant better baseline study, monitoring, or mitigation

17 Role of Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) in Activity Reviews CSAS coordinates the peer review of scientific issues (such as stock assessments or anthropogenic development proposals) for Fisheries Management in DFO Different regions of Canada conduct their resource assessment reviews independently, tailored to regional characteristics and stakeholder needs NL, NS, and Nunanvut have established processes whereby there are federal- provincial co-management agreements

18 Role of CSAS in Anthropogenic Activity Reviews Science Advisory Reports (Stock Status Reports, Ecosystem Status Reports, Habitat Status Reports. Management strategies, frameworks and guidelines on the assessment or evaluation on specific issues, impacts of human activities on ecosystem components as well as recovery assessments on a species or population) Research Documents document the scientific basis for the evaluation of fisheries resources by providing progress reports on ongoing investigations (marine mammal population estimates) Proceedings Series (record activities at meetings or workshops sponsored by DFO) Science Responses document reviews provided by DFO Science, such as when when Science has to respond to urgent and unforeseen requests for scientific information / advice

19 Role of CSAS in Anthropogenic Activity Reviews Science Advisory Reports Science Special Response Baffinland Iron Mine Environmental Assessment Proceedings Research Documents NIRB

20 Example: Atlantic Activity Assessments Federal-Provincial intergovernmental agreements established oversight boards (C-NLOPB and C-NSOPB) Relegate DFO Science and other agency reviews to that of advisory input Final decisions on activity approval, and monitoring and mitigation requirements made by the Boards

21 Example: Nunavut Activity Assessment Federal-Nunavut intergovernmental agreements established oversight board (NIRB) Relegate DFO Science and other agency reviews to that of advisory input Final decisions on activity approval, and monitoring and mitigation requirements made by the Board

22 Conclusions Like other countries, Canada is seeking a more comprehensive and objective means to assess impacts of large marine development projects New approach will be better means to achieve these goals, but further international review is planned (international workshop in Nov 2013; post- doc to refine approach by incorporating risk and uncertainty; develop quantitative assessment "tool") CSAS role varies across country but new approach and “tool” could increase review consistency

23 Thank You - Merci

24 Recommendations For Shipping Impact Mitigation Shipping operations should undertake the following mitigation measures aimed at reducing the potential for interaction with marine mammals in the Arctic: –Consider reducing shipping rates during periods when interactions with marine mammals may be the most problematic; –Consider alternate shipping routes to avoid areas that are identified as having higher marine mammal concentrations; –Reduce vessel speed as a mitigation measure, which might lower collision risks in open water and to some extent reduce vessel noise output – may be ineffective in reducing or eliminating the risk for whales in polynya or dense pack ice; –Require proponents to submit clearly-defined monitoring and mitigation plans to collect baseline information necessary to later determine if there have been project-related changes in marine mammal behaviour or residence; –Ensure that data produced by surveillance monitoring programmes are analysed rigorously by experienced analysts to maximize their effectiveness in providing baseline information and for detecting potential effects of shipping activities on marine mammals; and, –impact assessment methodology must be more comprehensive by being extended to cumulative effects as there is a critical need to address those in a more formal and systematic way. Hence the proposed national framework


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