Marine Mammal Mitigation Plans (MMMP)

The design and execution of Marine Mammal Mitigation Plans (MMMPs) are undertaken specifically to minimise the impact (positive and negative) of offshore industrial activities on marine mammals. A Marine Mammal Mitigation Plan is not only used to protect marine mammals in the survey area and fulfil reporting obligations to the regulatory body, but also provide resources for gathering additional data on marine mammals for future operation planning.

Sighting of a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) from a seismic vessel operating in the North Sea in March © OSC 2012.

Sighting of a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) from a seismic vessel operating in the North Sea in March. © OSC 2012.

In essence, a Marine Mammal Mitigation Plan will help minimise the impact of industrial activities in three ways: timing and location of the survey or activity, control of operational procedures and real-time mitigation. By considering the timing and location of a survey, a Marine Mammal Mitigation Plan will try and avoid times and areas which are important to marine mammals. This may include essential breeding, nursing or feeding grounds. Controls of operational procedures for seismic surveys will ensure that only as much noise that is required to conduct the survey is produced. Other noise producing activities such as pile driving may require a type of acoustic isolating material to be used in order to reduce the noise produced during piling. The main part of real-time mitigation involves visual or acoustic observations of the project area to insure no marine mammals are in the vicinity before operations begin and in some cases during operations.

Marine Mammal Mitigation Plans are written because concerns have been raised on the conservation of marine mammals worldwide from the impact of increasing ocean noise. Since cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) rely on sound for finding food, navigation and communication, the introduction of noise into the marine environment could have a negative impact on an individual and/or population. Numerous marine mammal mitigation guidelines have therefore been put in place, which are now used in the UK and various other parts of the world in order to help minimise the disturbance on marine mammals. Please see www.marinemammalmitigation.co.uk for more details.

Implementation of a Marine Mammal Mitigation Plan

During industrial activities Marine Mammal Mitigation Plans are implemented by Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs; www.marinemammalobserver.co.uk), Protected Species Observers (PSOs; www.protectedspeciesobservation.co.uk), and/or Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) operators (www.passiveacousticmonitoring.com).

Marine Mammal Mitigation Plans often require Marine Mammal Observers on-board seismic vessels and rigs to conduct visual watches for marine mammals during daylight hours. Passive Acoustic Monitoring operators can be used, in conjunction with Marine Mammal Observers, to detect vocalising animals which are submerged or diving. Passive Acoustic Monitoring can be used during hours of darkness, or poor weather conditions, allowing 24 hour Marine Mammal Mitigation Plan implementation. Marine Mammal Observers and Passive Acoustic Monitoring operators also collect baseline data on the occurrence and distribution of marine mammals in the project area.

Ocean Science Consulting Ltd. (OSC; www.osc.co.uk) provides these required personnel for industrial operations to ensure that Marine Mammal Mitigation Plans and guidelines are complied with.

Marine Mammal Observation from a drilling rig during a Vertical Seismic Profiling (VSP) operation in the North Sea. © OSC 2004.

Marine Mammal Observation from a drilling rig during a Vertical Seismic Profiling (VSP) operation in the North Sea. © OSC 2004.

Ocean Science Consulting Ltd.

Ocean Science Consulting has been involved in writing Marine Mammal Mitigation Plans for various offshore oil and gas and wind farm projects. With the wealth of knowledge, experience and dedication at OSC, our Marine Mammal Mitigation Plans cover all possible mitigation measures that can be put in place successfully. All employees at OSC have an in-depth understanding of worldwide marine mammal mitigation guidelines, marine mammal distribution and behaviour, oceanography and offshore industrial operations, giving our Marine Mammal Mitigation Plans a quality that is second-to-none. With a good Marine Mammal Mitigation Plan in place, projects can be carried out in a way that will satisfy the regulatory body in your project area and reduce operational downtime.

On behalf of RSK Environment (www.rsk.co.uk), OSC successfully designed and implemented the Marine Mammal Mitigation Plan for the Corrib offshore pipeline (http://en.wikipedia.org). We also have extensive experience in the provision of Marine Mammal Mitigation Plans for German and Dutch waters. Ocean Science Consulting personnel are also involved in advising the New Zealand Government Department of Conservation – Te Papa Atawhai (www.doc.govt.nz) on guidelines for Passive Acoustic Monitoring of cetaceans.

For more information about all of our services and previous clients see our main site www.osc.co.uk.

Comments are closed.