A national framework to incorporate and quantify

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. 2013. 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. ”)
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)
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 activityrelated 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?
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
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
Case Study – Baffinland Iron Mine
Year-round shipping, regardless of ice
Pass through bowhead and other
marine mammal aggregations
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
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
• 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)
Case Study – Baffinland Iron Mine
With rankings of high magnitude, likelihood, and severity, the
“Impact” ranking of this shipping noise exposure will be “High”
BUT, extrapolating these exposure estimates to “harm” as
it relates to marine mammal populations not clearcut
Case Study – Baffinland Iron Mine
Impacts on reproduction or survival
of even a few whales could lead to
negative impacts on population recovery
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
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”)
Conclusions - A National Framework
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
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
Develop guidelines for industry that outline the
information needed for adequate impact assessment
+ proposed methodologies for evaluating impacts
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?)
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
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 federalprovincial co-management agreements
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
Role of CSAS in Anthropogenic Activity Reviews
Science Advisory Reports
Research Documents
Baffinland Iron Mine Environmental Assessment
Science Special Response
Example: Atlantic Activity Assessments
• Federal-Provincial intergovernmental
agreements established oversight boards
• 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
Example: Nunavut Activity Assessment
• Federal-Nunavut intergovernmental
agreements established oversight board
• 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
• 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; postdoc 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
Thank You - Merci
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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