ESB has announced the completion of an industry-endorsed Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) Training Programme launched in 2023, which was open to recent graduates, final-year undergraduates and postgraduate students who studied or worked in the area of marine science or related disciplines.
A key objective of the Programme was to assist in developing marine ecology education and skills to support successful applicants at the early stages of their careers in the marine environmental profession. An additional key aim was to fill a gap in the Irish offshore wind industry’s local supply chain due to a lack of locally based MMOs on the island of Ireland.
The five successful applicants took part in industry-approved training courses, including Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET), United Kingdom's Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) MMO training certifications with additional Irish Guideline modules, and Offshore Energies U.K (OEUK) approved medical and Fit-to-Train certifications.
Participants took part in MMO training provided by the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group (IWDG) and spent two nights onboard the research vessel Celtic Mist at Kilrush, Co Clare, followed by a half-day at sea.
All participants were also provided with one-year complimentary membership of IWDG, the Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA) and the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) with professional mentoring support and access to the Career Development Pathway.
Speaking on the completion of the programme, ESB’s Offshore Ecology Team said: "The ESB Marine Mammal Observer Training Programme, launched in 2023, represented a significant milestone. As of 2024, Ireland now has five newly trained and much-needed MMOs as a result of this initiative. Through this Programme, ESB has demonstrated its commitment to supporting the Marine Mammal Observer role in Ireland, nurturing local talent which will be essential in the delivery of ESB's Net Zero targets by 2040. Our funding has facilitated opportunities to enhance skilled work readiness and has strengthened local talent in collaborating with local organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group amid Ireland's renewable energy expansion. At the heart of this Programme is the inspiration and support of young professionals seeking fulfilling careers in marine ecology and sustainable energy".
Amy O’Reilly, one of the newly trained MMOs, shared her insights into the experience: “The ESB MMO Training Programme has been a wonderful opportunity and unforgettable experience for me. When I first applied, I had a history of volunteering with marine wildlife charities and was in the middle of a nine-month internship with the cetacean charity, Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch. ESB recognised my passion and drive towards building a career in the Marine Science field. Some of my highlights from the Programme included sleeping on board the Celtic Mist, undergoing training by the very wise and seasoned MMO Mr. Patrick Lyne and, of course, escaping from a helicopter underwater in the BOSIET training. I am delighted to say that with this training as a foundation, I have been able to get my first MMO role with IWDG Consulting working on a short project in Dublin Port”.
Qualified MMOs are environmental professionals who specialise in monitoring marine megafauna species and ensuring the implementation of mitigation requirements during various industry operations, and they will be key components in the delivery of offshore wind projects over the coming decade. Ireland has a unique capability given its prime location to take advantage of the potential of offshore wind.
Pictured (Front left to right) MMO Training candidates Thomas Power, Sibeal Alliot, Amy O’Reilly, Margherita Medina, Marthje Schüler, and (rear left to right) Barry Faulkner, Community Liaison Officer ESB, Niru Dorrian, Senior Offshore Ecology Coordinator ESB, Ciara Hamilton, Ecology Team Lead ESB and Patrick Lyne, Marine Consultant IWDG at Kilrush Harbour during ESB’s Marine Mammal Observer Training Programme.