The construction of the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal included dredging of the adjacent shipping channel. Dredging of the shipping channel to mandated depths, required the blasting of bedrock, which inhibited dredging operations. As a result, marine mammal and protected species observation was required by the NMFS, EPA and Mass DMF during all blasting operations.
Scope of Work:
Fathom Resources (Fathom) conducted pre and post blast monitoring for the presence of fish and marine mammals (seals) in the projected impact zone immediately prior to the initiation of blasting utilizing sonar and a NMFS approved observer. When fish and seals were detected within the impact zone, a fish and seal startle system was deployed by Fathom.
After the completion of each blasting event, the Fathom observer monitored the area within and near the impact zone, looking for fish that may have been injured or killed. Monitoring commenced immediately following the completion of each blasting event and continued until no more bodies are recovered. Dead and injured fish were counted and sorted by species and the information was reported to EPA. Blasting would cease during the passage of schools of fish or when a marine mammal was present, as determined by Fathom observers.
Fathom supported the blasting operations with one observer onboard a sonar equipped 24-Ft Fathom patrol vessel and a second observer onboard the blasting barge (in direct contact with the blasting supervisor and the survey boat).
The following information was collected daily
- dates and times of all monitoring effort
- lead observer contact information
- visibility information that would impact monitoring – (e.g. wind, clarity of conditions [i.e. sunny, overcast, etc.], sea state/swell, glare)
- beginning and end times of survey
- beginning and end time of any marine mammal sighting
- general location of marine mammal sighting in context to the survey location
- number of marine mammals in each sighting and species (if possible)
- general marine mammal behavior observed, including bearing from the observer and direction of travel
- blast barge GPS waypoints
- estimated age class of group members (adult, juvenile, calf/pup)
- estimated numbers of fish sonar contacts
- number of fish killed per each blast
- species of fish killed per each blast