Setting Minimum Standards

These position statements have been developed by the MMOA 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 (SoC)[1] .

Please note that in some countries – regulatory bodies have formalised procedures and where that is the case those procedures must be strictly adhered to.

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. Throughout these documents we refer to MMOs and PAM Operators, and we use these terms in purely a mitigation context. In other words, for the specific use of these personnel during mitigation of anthropogenic sound sources rather than for research surveys or baseline monitoring surveys.

All of the MMOA Position Statements are available for download in addition to viewing on this website. To download this document please click here

We would welcome any comments regarding these documents and there will be regular reviews and revisons made accordingly.

Summary of our position on key issues:

  • A thorough Environmental Impact Assessment is required prior to all projects to provide the information necessary to formulate a Mitigation Plan.
  • Mitigation Plans should be site, species and source specific.
  • Mitigation Measures incorporated in Mitigation Plans should be based on current scientific knowledge/understanding, in the absence of which a precautionary approach should be applied.
  • Passive Acoustic Monitoring has limitations. These limitations must be considered if PAM is to be used as an alternative for visual monitoring. Alternative monitoring methods or cessation of night time operations should also be considered.
  • Only suitably qualified, experienced and dedicated personnel should be hired as Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operators.
  • MMO/PAM mitigation training certificates should not be the only requirement to qualify a person as an MMO or PAM Operator, in addition, appropriate field experience is required.
  • MMO/PAM Mitigation Training Providers should not advertise their courses to be the only qualification needed to qualify a person as an MMO or PAM Operator nor should Regulators, Clients or MMO/PAM Operator Provider Companies consider certificates to be such.
  • MMO Data that are to be scientifically analysed must be collected and analysed by suitably qualified personnel.
  • MMO data collection should be standardised globally to create a stronger dataset.
  • The publication of individual MMO data by suitably qualified MMOs should be encouraged where permission has been granted from the Client.

 Detailed Position Statements are as followed and can be accessed by clicking on the titles below:

1. Environmental Impact Assessments and Mitigation Plans

2. Mitigation Measures Required in a Mitigation Plan

3. Passive Acoustic Monitoring

4. Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) Qualifications

5. Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operator Qualifications

6. Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Mitigation Training Standards

7. Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operator Providers

8. Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Data Collection and Analysis

9. The Use of Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) Data for Scientific Publications

10. The Conduct of Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operators during Offshore Operations



[1] The MMOA defines Species of Concern (SoC) as those species which are included in the mitigation protocols implemented by MMOs and PAM Operators. Marine mammals (cetaceans, pinnipeds and sirenians) are the focal faunal groups considered by most regulators worldwide. However, the MMOA believes that other marine species warrant inclusion as SoC in many geographic regions, for example large marine species considered to be of conservation concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) such as sea turtles, whale sharks, basking sharks and some species of ray.

About the Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA)

mmoa footer logoThe Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA) is a membership based association with the aim of bringing together and representing individuals who work commercially and professionally as Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operators who implement mitigation measures to protect marine life during industry operations. The MMOA also provides information to other individuals that have an interest in MMO issues.