End of Year Update 2023

MMOA Logo Blue JPGIt has been a productive year for the Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA) and as we conclude 2023 we take note of our contributions to marine fauna mitigation and industry collaborations.

A strategic move in 2023 saw the MMOA launching an overhauled website and new membership tiers, offering Full Membership, Associate Membership, and a Corporate Membership. The association proudly welcomed new Corporate Members, including Atlas Professionals, Ocean Ecology, Edgewise Environmental, EMS Assist Ltd, Geo-quip Marine, and Whale Seeker, strengthening collaborative efforts towards responsible marine mammal observation and mitigation services. All our membership tiers now have access to our forum, where you can search for information, advice and job opportunities. To find out more, take a look at our joining pages

Beyond organisational enhancements, the MMOA aims to work with professional, experienced and newly qualified MMOs and PAM operators, industry, government agencies, non-government organisations (NGOs) and academics to improve the profession's effectiveness. This year, the MMOA committee actively engaged with a number of parties at various events: including a stakeholder workshop on the development of a regional action plan for underwater noise hosted by  The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) on 20th October 2023. The MMOA provided expert insight into underwater noise impacts to assist with their plan to reduce anthropogenic underwater noise to levels that do not adversely affect the marine environment. This commitment underscores the association's dedication to shaping policies that mitigate the impact of human activities on the marine environment.

The MMOA actively contributed to further global conversations with the provision of an opinion note on the use of ‘Super Soft Starts’ for a regulator in Central America. We showcased the association's commitment to influencing regulatory frameworks aligning with sustainable marine mammal mitigation best practices. In a proactive outreach initiative, the MMOA also sought dialogue with Saudi Aramco, seeking insights into their considerations regarding marine mammal monitoring and mitigation during offshore geophysical survey operations to which we are currently following up for a response. The MMOA committee participated in the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) stakeholder engagement centred on proposed updates to the JNCC Marine Mammal Mitigation guidelines for explosives use, reinforcing the association's role in promoting improved practices and also constributed feedback to the JNCC guidance for the use of Passive Acoustic Monitoring in UK waters for minimising the risk of injury to marine mammals from offshore activities.

We also organised a webinar in 2023, with Dr Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara who discussed Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs), from a concept in the Mediterranean to a global initiative and with Dr Brandon Southhall where he examined and explained the recent paper by Dr. Southall and colleagues from 2021 “Marine Mammal Noise Exposure Criteria: Assessing the Severity of Marine Mammal Behavioural Responses to Human Noise”.

Executive Committtee member Patrick Lyne also attended the ECS Conference in Galicia in Spain on behalf of the MMOA where he also presented a workshop that was titled ‘The use of Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) in the attainment of Good Environmental Status (GES) under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)’.

The MMOA also proudly endorsed the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) funded Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) training programme, which was open to graduates, final-year undergraduates and postgraduate students who are studying or working in the area of marine science or related disciplines in Ireland. 

As the MMOA reflects on a year of accomplishments, the association remains steadfast in its mission to lead global efforts in marine fauna observation and mitigation practices in the years to come.

From everyone on the Executive Committee we would like to thank you all for your support and wish you happy holidays as we near the end of 2023!


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