Sustainability was engaged by Fugro-TSM to provide a Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) to support a series of offshore operations. The task was to provide guidance and assistance in the implementation of mitigation measures for the protection of marine fauna during offshore operations.
Sustainability’s qualified MMO is present during offshore operations and advises when operations need to be delayed or shutdown to ensure marine fauna are at a safe distance from the operation (outside of pre-determined exclusion zones). The MMO maintains records of observations, behaviour, life history statistics and details of any mitigation actions applied and this information is submitted to regulating bodies as a means of both ensuring compliance to relevant standards and legislation, and for research purposes.
Monitoring and management measures for marine fauna are usually determined on a project-specific basis in Australia, with consideration given to the scope of the project, location and seasonality. Sustainability’s MMO works closely with the client and contractor to ensure requirements are adhered to, whilst also providing clarification and advice on relevant standards and legislation.
Projects requiring the services of a dedicated MMO have risen in recent years due to improved understanding of the implications associated with anthropogenic noise in the ocean and how this may injure or interfere with marine life and, in particular, marine mammals and turtles.
Offshore operations that have the potential to cause adverse impacts to marine fauna are:
- Seismic Surveys – searching for new oil and gas reserves, geophysical or geotechnical profiling.
- Explosives – used in the decommissioning of oil platforms and structures.
- Pile Driving for Construction – offshore mooring and anchor locations.
- Drilling – new wells for offshore oil and gas reserves.
- Dredging – for the removal of sediments in harbours and waterways.