There is an increasing level of interest in the effects of anthropogenic sound on the marine environment, particularly the potential effects of widespread marine geophysical exploration upon marine mammals on seismic exploration typically involves the use of airgun.
There is a growing body of evidence detailing a host of behavioural effects caused by a variety of underwater noise sources, as well as the potential for physical damage. Physical damage includes damage to body tissues resembling decompression sickness (‘the bends’) and auditory damage. Symptoms resembling decompression sickness may result from the initiation of bubble growth caused by sound.
Currently seven (UK, US, Canada, Australia, NZ, Russia, Brazil) nations where there are high levels of geophysical activity have recognised the potential for such impacts, and as seismic exploration increases; guidelines and regulations that aim to minimise disturbance and potential damage to marine mammals during seismic surveys have been formulated.
The UK’s ‘Guidelines for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals from seismic surveys’ produced by the joint nature conservation committee (JNCC) were the first such guidelines to come into effect. Introduced in 1995, developed from a draft produced by the sea mammal research unit (SMRU), these guidelines have been used as a model by other countries when producing their own mitigation guidelines.
Each set of guidelines is put in place in order to implement national and/or international environmental policies as defined in Article 1 (1) (4) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Malaysia ratified UNCLOS on 14 October 1996 and UNCLOS came into force on Malaysia on 13 November 1996
The competence of a country to adopt measures to protect marine species from noise caused by such activities is circumscribed by international law (UNCLOS, Article 204-206). Even when an activity is not of an international...