WDCS has criticised the Alfred Wegener Institute for polar research in Germany for conducting risky underwater experiments off Antarctica which create high noise levels, and threaten whale and dolphin populations.
The seismic surveys involve the use of ‘air guns’ which fire sound up to 260db into the seabed to locate oil and gas fields.
After the German federal environmental agency (Umweltbundesamt UBA) failed to approve the proposed seismic surveys, the Alfred Wegener Institute simply passed the work onto a Russian cooperation partner so that they could go ahead with the surveys anyway using a Russian permit. WDCS is aware that the Alfred Wegener Institute has previously abandon the use of these large-volume airguns before, but in this case they are simply conducting them under a Russian ‘flag of convenience’.
“By breaching its promise the Alfred Wegener Institute is undermining international conservation efforts” says Dr. Karsten Brensing, conservation manager at WDCS Germany . “How can we have faith in environmental conservation progress if one federal authority is playing tricks on the other?” he asks.
There has been a conflict between the German federal environmental agency and the Alfred Wegener Institute ever since the law forcing implementation of the Antarctic Treaty 1998 came into effect.
More on noise pollution here