In recent years, interest and concern for marine mammals (seals, dolphins and whales) particular on the Dutch continental shelf has greatly increased. These concerns have led the Dutch Government to consider banning seismic research in the Dutch Continental Shelf during the period April to October, with effect from 1991. Seismic research is intensive during the sunnier sccson because current methods depend on good weather conditions.

The importance of the environment, as well as the interest of the E&P industrie in the Dutch Continental Shelf, demand careful consideration of this problem. Four aspects need consideration:

  • the presence or absence of marine mammals,

  • seismic research techniques,

  • the interaction between both of the above,

  • the effectiveness of protective measures.

In the following sections, the occurrence of marine mammals in the Dutch Continental Shelf, the ecology of the various species, the developement and current status of seismic research and the effect of such seismic investigations upon marine mammals are discussed. Conclusions are drawn in Section 5 concerning the necessity and effectiveness of the proposed ban. Likewise, recommendations have been made in Section 6 on a possible course of action .

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