Establishment of a Formal Association
The early years involved a team of experienced personnel who were determined to form an Association to represent professional MMOs and PAM Operators and also to act as a point of contact for industry, regulators, project managers and anyone else who is interested in marine mammal mitigation during offshore operations. The volunteer team consists of marine mammal observers, passive acoustic monitoring operators, marine mammal biologists, researchers and naturalist guides, MMO and PAM trainers and personnel experienced in managing teams of MMOs and project management.
Initial funding was provided by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) , which is the public body that advises the UK Government and devolved administrations on UK-wide and international nature conservation. This allowed the team to achieve the following:
- Establishment of a formal Executive Committee, constitution, mission statement, professional code of conduct and a functional interactive website for its members.
- Development of a MMO forum so that experienced MMOs can exchange information, ask questions and voice their concerns regarding MMO issues.
- Development of an Information Directory for Members to gain further knowledge of MMO issues.
Feedback to Regulatory Bodies
An important achievement of the Association to date is the feedback of collective opinion to regulatory bodies regarding mitigation measures for protecting marine fauna during offshore industry operations. In particular, the Association has been active in relaying feedback to the following:
- UK - Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) - Participation in the consultation regarding JNCC MMO Data forms which were being reviewed. Also constant clarification issues on existing mitigation measures.
- Ireland - Irish National Parks and Wildlife Services - Participation in the consultation regarding Mitigation Protocols for Marine Mammals in Ireland.
- New Zealand - Participation in the consultation on the development of mitigation protocols, training programs and data collection for the New Zealand Department of Conservation.
- Trinidad and Tobago - OceanWatch - Participation in the consultation regarding Mitigation Protocols for Marine Mammals in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Association was praised for their contribution to the Department of Conservation and we received this comment from Mr Tara Ross-Watt, Senior Technical Adviser, Department of Conservation, New Zealand
“The New Zealand government is currently reviewing guidance for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals from seismic survey operations, and is soon to publish a new Code of Conduct. This process has relied heavily on expert stakeholders to develop the most robust yet practical regime possible based on international best practises. The Marine Mammal Observer Association made a significant contribution, facilitating efficient co-ordination of comments from its members which helped us develop relevant, comprehensive provisions for marine mammal observer standards, training, recording and reporting. Personally, I was impressed by the organisation's passion and commitment to raising professional standards across their sector, and by the quality of advice we received. I would like to express my gratitude for the valuable contribution that the MMOA has made to our review.”
Development of Position Statements
The Association has developed a set of Position Statements to outline our position on a number of issues relevant to the minimum standards that should be adopted for marine mammal observation, passive acoustic monitoring and mitigation to minimise the effects of anthropogenic sound on Species of Concern. These statements may be useful for any regulatory body wishing to revise existing procedures or for government, non-government organisations and industry formulating marine mammal mitigation procedures for geographic areas where no formal regulations are in place. These Position Statements are available for download in addition to viewing on this website. To visit this page please click here.
To date we have received some positive comments about these Position Statements and we have opened a consultation period to allow further development and incorporation of expert advise to improve these.
Engagement with Industry
Important to the development and success of the Association is the engagement with industry. This is being achieved through committee members attending meetings with oil companies and oil associations. The development of the above mentioned Position Statements have been key to this engagement. Another key event involved a workshop on new mitigation technologies and current acoustic exposure guidelines hosted by the MMOA and the New Zealand DOC at the 29th European Cetacean Society Conference in March 2015.
Attendance at Conferences
Committee Members have been attending conferences to promote the Association and to be present during discussions regarding marine mammal mitigation. We have attended the following:
- Society for Marine Mammalogy 19th Biennial Conference. November 2011, Florida, USA.
- 26th European Cetacean Society Conference, Galway March 2012, Galway, Ireland.
- Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) Conference, September 2012, Perth, Australia.
- International Association of Impact Assessment (IAIA): Special Symposium organized by the IAIA Biodiversity & Ecology Section February 2013, Washington D.C., USA.
- The 75th European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers (EAGE) Conference & Exhibition, June 2013, London UK
- Third International Conference on the Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life, August 2013, Budapest, Hungary.
- Society for Marine Mammalogy 20th Biennial Conference. December 2013, Dunedin, New Zealand.
- 28th European Cetacean Society Conference. April 2014, Liege, Belgium.
- 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress. August 2014 Glasgow, Scotland.
- 29th European Cetacean Society Conference, March 2015, Malta
- All Energy Exhibition & Low visibility workshop, May 2015, Glasgow, Scotland