Marine Mammal Observer Association: Position Statements .Marine Mammal Observer Association: Position

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  • Marine Mammal Observer Association: Position Statements

    The Key Issues That Should Be Addressed When Developing Mitigation Plans To Minimise The Effects of Anthropogenic Sound On Species Of Concern.

    Version 2. Consultation Document 15 January 2016

    Marine Mammal Observer Association Communications House, 26 York Street, London.

    United Kingdom. W1U 6PZ Website: www.mmo-association.org

    Email: info@mmo-association.org

    http://www.mmo-association.org/mailto:info@mmo-association.org

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    Acknowledgements

    This document has been complied by the Executive Committee of the Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA).

    The MMOA Executive Committee (past and present) contains a huge wealth of experience including Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)/ Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) accredited trainers, a PAM trainer, an Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) MMO coordinator, marine mammal researchers, environmental scientists and long established MMOs and PAM operators who are highly experienced and well respected in their field.

    Committee members (past and present) who have contributed to these position statements are Alison Gill, Caroline Weir, Carolyn Barton, Patrick Lyne, Sarah Barry, Frances Robertson, Jacklyn Barrs, Claire Lacey, Juliet Shrimpton, Ruth Esteban and Heather Tabisola.

    The MMOA is extremely grateful for the comments and suggestions received during the first round of consultation, the document is now stronger as a result. The MMOA would like to thank Dave Wall (Wild Ocean), Paul Shone (International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) and Chevron), Mark Simmonds (Humane Society International, formerly Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC)), Sarah Dolman (WDC), Geomotive (Acquired by Atlas Professionals), Peter Ward (Kongsberg) and David Hannay (JASCO).

    This document is open for comments and the date for the third review is 1st December 2017 Comments or questions regarding this document should be sent to info@mmo-association.org by this date.

    mailto:info@mmo-association.org

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    Citation for this document: MMOA Executive Committee (2015), Marine Mammal Observer Association: Position Statements. The Key Issues That Should Be Addressed When Developing Mitigation Plans To Minimise The Effects of Anthropogenic Sound On Species Of Concern. Version 2. Consultation Document 1st December 2015, 38pp.

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    Marine Mammal Observer Association Position Statements Executive Summary

    The 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.

    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, these roles refer to the specific use of these personnel during mitigation of anthropogenic sound sources rather than for research surveys or baseline monitoring surveys.

    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 principal 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 (have no other role onboard) 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.

    1 For the purposes of this document the MMOA defines Species of Concern (SoC) as those species which are included in the mitigation protocols implemented by MMOs and PAM Operators. Regulator-definitions of SoCs are usually those acoustically-reliant species known to be sensitive to loud sounds, specifically marine mammals (cetaceans, pinnipeds and sirenians). However, the MMOA recognises that information on acoustic sensitivity is lacking for many other marine species, and that other criteria may be important for defining SoC. 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 may warrant inclusion in some geographic areas.

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    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 collection should be standardised globally to create a stronger international dataset.

    MMO Data that are to be scientifically analysed must be collected and analysed by suitably qualified personnel.

    The publication of individual MMO data by suitably qualified MMOs should be encouraged where permission has been granted from the Client.

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    Table of Contents

    Acknowledgements ................................................................................................................................. 1

    Marine Mammal Observer Association Position Statements Executive Summary ............................. 3

    1. Environmental Impact Assessments and Mitigation Plans ................................................................. 6

    2. Mitigation Measures Required in a Mitigation Plan ......................................................................... 10

    3. Passive Acoustic Monitoring ............................................................................................................. 16

    4. Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) Qualifications ............................................................................ 20

    5. Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operator Qualifications ........................................................... 22

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

    Standards .............................................................................................................................................. 24

    7. Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operator Providers .. 27

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

    Analysis ................................................................................................................................................. 28

    9. The Use of Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) Data For Scientific Publications .............................. 30

    10. Conduct of Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM)

    Operators during Offshore Operations ................................................................................................. 35

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    1. Environmental Impact Assessments and Mitigation Plans

    The Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA) considers that the production of a comprehensive and informative Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the subsequent development of a site-specific, detailed Mitigation Plan (MP) for Species of Concern (SoC) are fundamental to effective mitigation programmes. It is important that these documents are produced well in advance of a mitigation survey and that both documents are made available to the mitigation team at the start of a survey so that the processes involved in developing the MP are clearly understood by the Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs)/Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operators. Some key points are outlined below.

    Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

    In the context of this document, the purpose of an EIA is to identify, predict and evaluate the effects of anthropogenic sound on SoC prior to, and during, a survey using a sound source and identify mitigation measures to address these. Some regulators provide specific guidance for the development of EIAs relating to the potential environmental impacts of seismic surveys and the use of other anthropogenic sound sources. The