Marine Mammal Observation
Aspect Land & Hydrographic Surveys Ltd has made a commitment to consider the environmental implications of our actions and operations and to act in an environmentally responsible manner in light of these considerations.
This commitment is underpinned by certification to the ISO 14001:2004 standard, as part of our PAS 99 Integrated Management System, and by our Environmental Management Strategy Statement.
There has been increased concern, in recent years, for the effect of man-made noise pollution in the ocean, particularly upon sea life known to be sensitive to sound.
Environmental regulations minimise negative impacts on marine wildlife, with particular focus on the maritime industry’s seismic exploration, both near shore and offshore.
This has resulted in the introduction of environmental guidelines, designed to minimise negative impacts on marine wildlife, with Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) employed to implement these regulations in the field.
It is a prerequisite for all MMO personnel working in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) to have undertaken a recognised course, and in accordance with this all staff within our Hydrographic Survey division have undergone appropriate training and are registered with the Joint Nature Conservancy Committee (JNCC).
The primary function of the MMO aboard a survey vessel is to observe and monitor for marine mammals and ensure that the survey is conducted in compliance with the JNCC guidelines for minimising the risk of injury and disturbance to any sea life present.
The MMO must act immediately to protect Species of Concern (SoC), should they enter an exclusion zone prior to or during survey procedures and will advise personnel on board to delay or shut down operations until the animals are at a safe distance. They will also record behaviour and sightings at other times.
Our MMOs are highly experienced professionals, with knowledge of survey operations as well as marine mammal observation and so are ideally placed to optimise the progress of the survey whilst ensuring compliance with all of the necessary guidelines.
Having this skill set available in-house has many benefits, including:
A professional approach by the MMO on board the platform, facilitating cooperation when mitigation measures are required (e.g. reconnaissance observations and equipment soft start procedures).
Knowledge and experience to answer questions that arise during the survey and to guide the crew through any mitigation measures required clearly and concisely, avoiding error and confusion.
Ability (based on previous experience and correct use of field equipment) to make accurate distance estimates, which may avoid unnecessary disruption to the survey.
Collection of standardised, high-quality data that proves compliance with mitigation requirements
Early detection of SoCs in the field and the experience to gauge the behaviour and direction of particular animals, allowing early mitigation responses that may avoid disruption to the survey.
Accurate identification of SoC to species level which ensures that species-specific mitigation measures are implemented correctly, avoiding potentially erroneous mitigation measures that may be costly to the survey.
Increased client confidence in meeting environmental requirements.
Spotting, and identifying, animals involves long hours of visual surveys. Ensuring adherence to guidelines requires a thorough knowledge of the regulations, understanding of the operations and the ability to communicate effectively with the crew.
As well as the geophysical and seismic exploration works, MMOs are also often required during decommissioning works, where disused platform pilings are removed by explosives, marine construction projects, cable laying works and HDD directional drilling projects.