Saturday, February 27, 2010
Hello? Whales unaffected by Calais LNG plant (Feb 25)?
— The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
CALAIS — A biological assessment filed by Calais LNG with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has concluded that increased vessel traffic from this proposed project is not likely to adversely affect North Atlantic right whales.
The lengthy report – a biological assessment on threatened and endangered marine mammals and sea turtles – was prepared for the company by Normandeau Associates Inc of Bedford, New Hampshire and submitted to FERC this week.
It concludes that [liquefied] natural gas transport vessels using the terminal [would] avoid travel through the areas most heavily utilized by right whales but also notes that low visibility, such as fog and night transit, in addition to the whales’ surface behaviour, limits the ability to see these whales.
The report also states that the overlap in frequency and source levels of vessel noise with right whale calls, vessel noise and presence of vessels may affect but are not likely to adversely affect the right whales. Similar reasons are listed in the report as to why it is felt the project [would] also not adversely affect humpback, fin, sei, blue, and sperm whales. Due to the relatively low prevalence of loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles within the transit route, the report notes that the vessels are also unlikely to adversely affect them either.
savepassamaquoddybay.org Webmaster’s Comments: Since right whale habitat studies have concentrated only in the open Bay of Fundy — not near Head Harbour Passage or in Grand Manan Channel — research is unlikely to reveal actual right whale activity in the unstudied areas, including the 40 right whales that frequented near the entrance to Head Harbour Passage last summer (2009). Such research and results are commonly referred to by the scientific community as "garbage in, garbage out"; the results are a reflection of the quality of the research.
As marine biologist Art MacKay, who has been mapping whale sighting data in the Quoddy area, stated last summer, Head Harbour Passage was "plugged with whales." (See Art's whale-sightings map at the top-left of his I Love Quoddy Wild website. Or go directly to a larger version of his Fundy Whales map on CommunityWalk.)
Danielle Dione's Quoddy Link Marine Sightings and Updates blog has video-recorded and still-photographed prolific whale (including right whale) activity in the proposed LNG transit area, the area that Calais LNG's "research" claims would be unaffected by LNG transits.