MMOA Members on The Ocean Cleanup


"Keeping a watchful eye with the help of a drone."

MMOA Member Gordon Foot is The Ocean Cleanup senior offshore representative and is also a certified MMO/PAM. He is assisting his colleagues Carolina Azevedo (Environmental Coordinator), Sebastian Orue (PSO) and Ana Muzio(PSO) during 24/7 mitigation efforts to ensure compliance to the environmental management plan and, most importantly, looking out for our seaborne friends. It is one considerable team effort with the ship’s crews joining in and keeping a watchful eye out. Observers are critical to our mission, and it is truly an international effort! The team are often joined by albatross, which keeps us company as ‘Jenny’ helps clear the ocean of plastics. 

For more information visit: https://theoceancleanup.com

Words by Gordon Foot

MMOA attends BEIS/JNCC PAM workshop


The MMOA Committee were invited along with other stakeholders and interested parties to attend the Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) workshop run by the BEIS (UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) and Joint Nature Conservation Committee JNCC.  Committee members Mike Ambler, Carolyn Barton, Heather Fowle, Patrick Lyne, Ashley Noseworthy & Gary Robinson attended over the two days. 

The Workshop was organised as currently there are no agreed standards or guidelines for how PAM is used as part of a mitigation programme within the UK. There is ongoing work to improve and update marine noise mitigation standards in the UK, so the JNCC has contributed to workshops run by Scripps Institute of Oceanography in the US to develop minimum standards for the use of PAM as a mitigation tool in offshore industries. The BEIS / JNCC workshop was looking to consider aspects of the work undertaken in the US for the ANSI standard (American National Standards Institute) and apply it to the UK to develop guidance to standardise deployment, effectiveness and reporting of static and towed PAM systems. Presentations were given over two days remotely over Teams looking at Pre & Post application reporting, PAM deployment and criteria for when to use PAM. Key speakers and topics included: 

  • Aaron Thode (Scripps): Overview of ANSI towed array passive acoustics standard.
  • David Hedgeland (BP): Industry perspective and overview of relevant IOGP Sound and Marine Life projects.
  • Doug Gillespie (SMRU): Overview of PAMGuard SIDE module
  • Stephanie Barnicoat (Seiche): PAM deployment: issues and challenges
  • Carolyn Barton: An overview of the existing use and effectiveness of PAM

Full discussions were undertaken of these topics by groups with further recommendations highlighted for future consideration and consultation. 

Words by Heather Fowle

COVID-19 and the Marine Mammal Mitigation Industry

COVID-19 and the Marine Mammal Mitigation Industry

COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is a pneumonia of unknown cause first detected in Wuhan, China and reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 31st December 2019. The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 30thJanuary 2020 as the spread of the virus became global. 

In March, as the spread of the disease continued to gather pace, the Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA) forum received its first COVID-19 related post as it seemed the then epidemic would only get worse and MMOA members became concerned for the impact of the virus on the Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) industry. These concerns were soon validated as the number of cases and the number of affected countries continued to climb, prompting the WHO to declare it a pandemic on 11th March; a pandemic within which we are still well and truly embroiled. All but everything came to a grinding halt, worldwide stock markets reported their largest weekly declines since the 2008 financial crisis and the socio-economic realities started to hit home. As ill-prepared countries became concerned at the rate of infection both overseas and at home, borders closed, internal travel bans were imposed and lockdown on all but essential travel outside of the home were put in place. 

As MMOs, our industry relies on the free travel of personnel to join vessels all over the world, our passports laden with rare stamps and work visas. The restrictions imposed on both internal and international travel as well as the financial implications to the industries upon which our work relies, both likely to play a major part in changing our industry. How will the oil and gas industry respond to this new crash, just five years on from the 2015 slump? Will the renewables industry, a sector that has seen considerable growth in the last 10 years, continue to grow? All questions that unfortunately, will play out in time, potentially a long time. There are few who question that this will affect us for years to come, there is an inevitability about it which we all must now accept.

MMOA Members

(MMOA Members from all around the globe during the pandemic)

So what are the short-term impacts, for which we have already realised and will continue to deal with in the coming months? It now seems apparent there is indeed a reduced availability of work available to MMOs as projects get cancelled or delayed and companies limit operations to only the essential. Travel restrictions mean internationals are no longer able to be considered for rotations mobilising in other countries and personnel are either left on rotation for seemingly endless rotation periods and unable to be relieved or at home with the uncertainty of not being able to work. 

“Our industry is as unpredictable as ever - complicated further by C19 - however I approach every job as though it is a bid until the travel arrangements are made. “

  • Jon Kenny, MMOA Committee Member & UK-based Freelance MMO

This situation is unsustainable, both for the safety and wellbeing of seafarers but also the safe operation of projects. Longer rotations may well become the easiest and cheapest option to clients unless the urgent calls from the heads of the maritime, labour and aviation organizations for action on crew changes and keyworker designations are realised (Read full statement here). Some projects that have engaged in crew change however have implemented a 14 day quarantine period upon arrival to the mobilisation port for all personnel. Personnel are monitored onshore before being clear to join the vessel crew, a cost absorbed by the client, at least at present. Will it be long before clients try to shift some, if not all, of this cost to MMOs and other freelance personnel, desperate to get back to work?

Increased uncertainty and added competition for positions are stressors we cannot avoid. Knock-on effects of long rotations offshore include the feeling of loneliness and isolation, and the uncertainty around work opportunities for MMOs at home breeds financial worries. Both of these extremes are affecting optimum mental health and wellbeing, which are important for those who work away from home, especially those who work offshore. For those experiencing these hardships, take a moment to process and normalise your concerns and remember, the very nature of our industry, especially as freelancers, places us amongst the most resilient to the uncertainties with work we currently face.

In the mid-term (6 to 12 months from now), companies will adapt to restrictions, some restrictions may be lifted and more control measures put in place to better limit the spread of infection in the offshore industry. We will learn to live with them, we may find eight week rotations become the new six week norm and pre-mobilisation testing and quarantine become commonplace. But, this all depends on the mid-term projections for the industries upon which we rely upon for our services. Rotations to accept may not be there in the first place, of course.

““We have experienced a lot of change in our industry in a short period of time. From the rise and fall of oil prices, the increase in renewable energy projects, economic recessions across various countries and now a pandemic. Uncertainty is now part of our profession and we shall continue to persevere.”

  • Ashley Noseworthy, MMOA Committee Member & CEO Edgewise Environmental Ltd

In reality, we can only really speculate on the longer term impacts of the pandemic but it is likely that there is a notable decline in oil exploration and seismic surveys. Forecasts suggest that more than half of the world’s planned licensing rounds are likely to be cancelled this year due to the combined effect of the pandemic and the ongoing oil price war (Read full article here) .This, coupled with larger organisations tightening the purse strings or looking to smooth out the impacts over a longer time period, will inevitably bring uncertainty yet. Despite the challenges of COVID-19 and weaker commodity prices, Neptune Energy (an international Exploration & Production company) had a strong first quarter but still decided to push back several project start dates to smoothen investments through 2020-2022 (Read full article here). This may offer insight into how the wider industry is planning to counteract the long-term uncertainty, suggesting the mid-term continue to show slow progress but the long-term provides more certainty.

So, what advice can we offer to MMOs now and what do we consider important actions for you to take? Well, our overarching advice is pretty simple: to stay safe but be proactive and use this time wisely, assessing each and every opportunity as you would do naturally:

  • First of all, take care of your personal health and wellbeing because it really is the number one priority. Follow guidelines to minimise the risk of infection from COVID-19 but also, take a moment to consider your mental health. Undoubtedly, stress and anxiety is elevated amongst most in the industry right now, whether that be as a result of being away for extended periods of time or not being away at all and worrying about finances. Understand that these thoughts and feelings, are both natural and temporary so take a moment to digest and normalise your anxieties.
  • Definitely avoid falling into the trap of driving down industry day rates by accepting lower rates in the panic to secure work. Now is a time when finances are stretched at all levels meaning there is an inevitable wobble in day rates in motion. Set your rate and stick to it, it is your experience and knowledge that is being valued.
  • Avoid travel for work unless absolutely necessary, assess your finances and see if you are better to just sit low for a few months, wait for the infection rates to come down and allow time for clients and contractors to put more refined control measures in place.
  • Check your insurance policy is up to date and COVID-19 secure. Does it cover COVID-19 related medevacs? 
  • Consider drafting an arsenal of questions you will ask potential employers regarding COVID-19 specific measures such as pre-mobilisation testing, travel plans and quarantine requirements, vessel COVID action plans and social distancing measures, infection response procedures, COVID-19 specific PPE and history of project / vessel infections. Remember, you have the right to stay safe onboard and can raise your concerns if you see unsafe conditions, especially with COVID-19 related conditions.
  • The MMOA is a firm believer that MMOs should aspire to improve their skills as an MMO and to further their knowledge – belong to a professional body where information and code of practice is promoted. Have you considered membership with the MMOAand could you make use of their recent partnership with the (Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology) to receive free membership and start your journey towards Chartered status? Others from a wider work scope include IEMA, CIWEM, SocEnv, EcoCanada.
  • Update your CV! Too often CVs are out of date, poorly presented or contain typos and errors which suggest no time or effort has been afforded to them. Remember, as a freelance biologist, these are your ticket to financial stability, treasure them and take this period of downtime as an opportunity to refine them! 
  • Be proactive with journal articles and research papers and take a moment to focus on your own Continuing Professional Development (CPD). How can you improve your CV to become more competitive during a potential downturn? Expand your knowledge and remind yourself why you first started in this industry.
  • Network and update employers / agencies on availability remotely. Speak with peers and colleagues about work opportunities and make yourself prominent but also use any contacts you have to get a better understanding of the current COVID-19 situation in a country you have work lined up for. 
  • Identify financial support schemes in your country put in place as a result of COVID-19. For example, if you are a freelance MMO and based in the UK, you may be able to claim support through the Self-Employment Income Scheme. Check to see if you are eligible here.

As the dynamics of the current situation change on a daily basis, the MMOA want to reassure all of our members, corporate sponsors and supporting organisations that we believe there is light at the end of tunnel and that the industry will recover, albeit steadily. Be safe but be proactive and look to diversify and develop your capabilities wherever you can.

The MMOA will do our part and continue in our aims of providing a collective voice for MMOs and promoting the MMO profession in the offshore industry. We will continue to provide a point of contact for advice and consultation on marine mammal mitigation issues, improving/reviewing guidelines and now, more important now than ever before, your safety at sea. 

We would like to hear from all MMOA members on this topic! Please use the forum to share your experiences of work and travel during COVID-19.

Gary Robinson - MMOA Committee Member & Operations Director at Ocean Ecology Ltd

29th May 2020

MMOA Chairman Attends AEECoW Conference 2019

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MMOA Chair Niru Dorrian recently attended the 2019 AEECoW annual conference in Lanarkshire Scotland. The AEECoW is the qualifying body for Environmental and Ecological Clerks of Works (ECoW). AEECoW has been developed to raise professional standards amongst those providing ECoW services whilst promoting ECoWs as valuable members of site development teams.

This year delegates met at the University of West Scotland's new Lanarkshire Campus for a day of talks and workshops, aimed at furthering the development of the ECoW role. Speakers included SNH, SEPA, Fairhurst, South Lanarkshire Council, Naturally Compliant, Land Use Consultants, Wills Bros Civil Engineering, CIEEM and Scottish Renewables. With representatives from all parts of the ECoW community - regulators, clients, contractors and practitioners - the conference represents an excellent opportunity to learn, contribute and network.   

The Environmental Clerk of Works role share many similarities to the MMO role and with more and more marine construction projects around the UK taking place there will be a ongoing requirement for these roles to work together in collaboration. 

IMarEST - Has a new look!

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"We started out as the Institute of Marine Engineers in 1889.

In 1999, we took the exciting step of opening up membership to not only engineers but also to marine scientists and marine technologists.

These terms are quite broad, but what they really aim to encompass is anyone who uses marine knowledge professionally. We want marine professionals - whatever their discipline - to be working together. That’s the only real way we can tackle the challenges facing humanity over the next century.

With complex issues such as climate change and artificial intelligence to contend with, we need all our best minds connected with each other, no matter where they are in the world.

This is why the Institute exists. To ensure these minds can bring about our vision of a world where oceans and marine resources are sustainably managed in the face of rapid physical and technological changes.

We are delighted to announce that we have updated the Institute’s brand to reflect our purpose as the global home for all marine professionals, as well as mirroring our vision for the planet and its oceans. You will see that this new branding emphasises “marine” and uses rounded shapes, greens and blues to evoke our hope for a sustainable Earth.

We are acutely aware that we cannot realise this kind of world without training the next generation and inspiring them to join a marine profession. We rely completely on their skills in science, technology and engineering to develop the technologies and infrastructure needed for such a future.

The Institute’s brand needs to reflect the fresh new perspectives that we want to attract into our membership, and we were thrilled with the response we got from both the younger and older demographics on whom we tested this new look.

We hope you agree that it echoes our ambitions to create a positive future for the Institute, the oceans, and the planet".

Excerpt from https://www.imarest.org/policy-news/institute-news/item/5178-we-ve-got-a-new-look


MMOA Partners with the IMarEST

MMOA Partners with the IMarEST

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Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA) has partnered with the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), the world’s largest international marine professional body, to help influence policy and improve understanding of issues relating to marine mammal mitigation.

This comes after 4 years of collaboration between the IMarEST and the MMOA and will continue to bring a wealth of benifits to our membership! by joining the 'Marine Partnership' programme this will further strengthen our position as an international association in the marine sector.

The partnership between MMOA and the IMarEST will additionally help facilitate the formation of a new IMarEST Special Interest Group on marine mammals and to further the Institute’s mission of safe and sustainable oceans.


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MMOA attends EAGE conference in Copenhagen


MMOA Executive Committee Member Gary Robinson recently attended the annual EAGE conference in Copenhagen on behalf of the MMOA with a focus on a workshop dedicated to ‘The effects of seismic surveys on the marine environment’. 

This workshop aimed to stimulate discussion with experts on the effect of anthropogenic sound on marine life, environmental legislation, industry best practices, underwater sound propagation, latest technological advances and on-going research programmes. A key interest from the MMOA in this workshop was highlighting the importance of utilizing qualified and relevantly experienced MMOs to key industry stakeholders to provide continued support to the rapidly advancing technological drive. 

Gary was active in discussions on the efficacy of current monitoring and mitigation technologies, mitigation planning and the importance of harmonizing technologies with MMOs in the field and the importance of engaging with experienced MMOs to inform and implement mitigation procedures.

The take-home message from this workshop was that whilst there still remains some uncertainty with the nature and severity of underwater noise impacts on marine mammals, it is important to continue developing technology in harmony with current research as well as seismic field experience, and not lose sight of the importance of having experience MMOs in the field and engage with industry stakeholders and researchers






MMOA Member Launches Canadian Training Consultancy: Edgewise Environmental

headshot1EDGEWISE Environmental has been established as Canada’s first environmental consultancy focused on marine mammal observation, seabird observation and acoustic monitoring training. There exists a gap within the market of mitigation training and accreditation within Canada. With the largest coastline in the world, Edgewise believes Canada should be at the forefront of environmental protection and survey monitoring, especially as it relates to oil and gas activities.

CEO, Ashley Noseworthy recognized a gap in offshore mitigation training when she began working offshore as an MMSO. Trained in the UK, she saw the differences in Canada’s guidelines compared to those of other offshore jurisdictions. The interpretation was required and it was evident to her that a program was needed in Canada.

Mitigation measures to reduce potential effects on marine mammals are required for seismic survey operations occurring in Canadian waters. These guidelines require, that during seismic operations a “qualified” MMO must be present onboard, however, the term “qualified” is not defined. Due to a lack of standardization any current working MMO’s within Canadian jurisdiction are currently either trained abroad, under foreign regulatory guidelines or in-house, by the hiring company and then required to interpret the Canadian guidelines, sometimes, while on the job, without previous familiarity.

Frustrated by this lack of accessible, third-party, Canadian-specific training Ashley has sought to develop the first standardized MMO training and qualification program in Canada. The same lack of standardization exists in relation to Seabird Observers and PAM Operators.  

Ashley Noseworthy - Ashley is formally educated, with a BSc (Marine Biology) from Memorial University of Newfoundland and an MSc (International Marine Environmental Consultancy) from Newcastle University, completing her Master's thesis in the area of marine mammal acoustics. She has worked offshore in a variety of capacities. Globally, as an MMSO for a number of seismic operators. She spent over a decade working with captive marine mammals in the areas of marine mammal husbandry, cognition and physiology. Ashley is also a qualified sea survival and aviation ditching instructor, instructing a variety of curricula to a global audience, having taught in both Canada and Norway.

She was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for the Newfoundland Environmental Industry Association and is an active member of the Marine Mammal Observer Association.

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MMOA attends ECS Conference 2018

Patrick Lyne recently attended the European Cetacean Society in La Spezia in Italy and presented a poster on Soft starts. Using the occasion to promote best practice and the MMOA. Topics for discussion were many and varied, but of particular interest to those in mitigation may be the new CMS seismic guidelines which form part of CMS resolution 12.14 adopted on October 28th and are no longer as the filename suggests a draft version. This resolution suggests a more rigorous approach to environmental assessment and mitigation than currently exists in most jurisdictions.

Next year the ECS conference will be in December and combined with SMM in a joint conference and all are encouraged to attend if they can. The conference on the Effect of Noise on Aquatic Life will also be held on the 7th to the 12th of July 2019 in Den Haag. So these are two important conferences next year in Europe.

Society for Marine Mammalogy Conference 2017

MMOA Attends Society for Marine Mammalogy Conference 2017

The biennual conference of the Society for Marine Mammalogy was held at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, between the 22nd and the 27th of October. The theme of this year’s conference was “A Canadian Odyssey – Eh!” and focused on “conservation impacts to marine mammals and the efforts to understand and ensure their continued survival.

The conference was attended by thousands of delegates and hundreds of presenters and was followed by two days of workshops which ran the gamut from “The Eight international Sirenian Symposium” to “Investigation of live large whale stranding response techniques”.

In addition to oral and poster presentations, this year’s conference included speed and video presentations as well. Exhibitors at the conference included, among others, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the non-profit “Viva Vaquita”, Irving oil, the United States Navy, Dalhousie University, and the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission.

Drone technology and autonomous vehicles are revolutionizing the way marine mammal research is conducted and its applicability and versatility in field research was apparent during the conference. Multiple talks on the use of a variety of autonomous vehicles and drones during marine mammal research were presented and included the use of unmanned sailing vessels to search for highly endangered North Pacific Right Whales in the Bering Sea, using rotocopters to obtain body mass condition on migrating Grey Whales off the Oregon coastline, and employing PAM “surface gliders” to detect vocalizing baleen whales off the US East Coast.

Several presentations covered Beaked Whale research, from general ecology and dive profiles to behavioural response to anthropogenic noise utilizing autonomous underwater passive acoustic platforms (i.e. underwater “gliders”). Among other interesting findings was a dive to 3675m by a Cuvier’s Beaked Whale off of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA, which constitutes the deepest recorded dive by any cetacean to date.

The MMOA was represented at the conference by Executive Committee Member Peter Nilsson who presented a poster on observed avoidance behaviour of dugongs and delphinids to shallow water seismic surveys in the Arabian Gulf. The work was co-authored by several members of the MMOA including Executive Committee Chair Neil Niru Dorrian.

In summary, it was a highly successful and productive conference which brought together marine mammal researchers from around the globe and facilitated the exchange of ideas, knowledge and novel technology. Next time, the SMM conference will be held in Barcelona, Spain, in October 2019 – we hope to see you there at the 2nd World Marine Mammal Conference.

MMOA Chairman Hosts Environmental Advisory Seminar at Shell Global Solutions

ShellNeil Niru Dorrian Chairman of the MMOA Executive Committee was invited to host an Environmental Advisory Seminar at Shell Global Solutions in The Hague in November 2017. Within his role as an independent advisor to Shell, Neil presented best practices and emerging technologies in Marine Mammal Monitoring. He also reviewed current industry mitigation methodologies and led discussions on potential improvements to industry standards. Finally, he reflected on the recruitment standards of offshore environmental teams and the challenges faced by this professional sector in the current context of the offshore industry. Shell adopted the MMOA Position Statements and best hiring guide during its 2016 seismic survey in Bulgaria and is supportive of the efforts of the MMOA in implementing best practices and improving standards.

MMOA committee member accredited as Registered Marine Scientist with IMarEST

Congratulations to Heather Fowle BSc Hons RMarSci MIMarEST on becoming the MMOAs latest member to become accreditied as a Registered Marine Scientist through the Marine Professionals - IMarEST

Heather RMarSci


"I have been a member of the Marine Mammal Observers Association since 2011 and I am an elected member of the Executive committee.

I took advantage of the automatic Affiliate membership (AIMarEST) of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology that is applied from being a member of the MMOA and further sought out full membership status (MIMarEST). I applied to become Registered as I am a passionate marine biologist and ecologist who has been extensively involved with conservation, environmental protection and biodiversity enhancement in marine, riparian and terrestrial environments since 1998 worldwide. I have worked as Research Assistant for the NGO CMMR Leviathan in Chile focusing on cetacean conservation and the analysis of vocalizations of Pseudorca crassidens; a Marine Mammal Medic with BDLMR and a volunteer MMO with Marine Life. I also worked to protect coral reef habitat in the Red Sea for the NGO HEPCA (Hurghada Environmental Protection Conservation Association). I began working as an MMO/PSO in 2011 after working as a Technical Officer Biodiversity with the Environment Agency. I have been fortunate to work all around the world and strive to learn more about issues facing the marine habitat, its fauna and its conservation.

My professional recognition interview consisted of providing evidence of my experience and qualifications and my ongoing dedication to the marine environment, its protection and enhancement of biodiversity and my commitment to continuous CPD as we never stop learning".

Seiche Measurements Ltd and Atlas Professionals renew corporate sponsorship

The MMOA would like to thank Seiche Measurements Ltd and Atlas Professionals for showing their continued support for the MMOA by renewing their corporate sponshorship for another year. This is especially commendable during the current industry climate.
These companies along with our other corporate sponsors demonstrate quality and high standards in their approach and are aligned with the core values and position statements of the MMOA. 
seiche1Seiche Measurements Limited specialises in the design, development and manufacture of underwater Passive Acoustic Monitoring and acoustic measurement systems. Products and services are used for marine mammal surveys prior to wind farm construction, mitigation during pile driving and construction, oil exploration surveys, well head decommissioning, removal of unexploded ordinance and sound source measurement and analysis.
atlas pro logoAtlas Professionals is a leading supplier of marine survey personnel worldwide.Our team of fully qualified and certified MMOs and PAM operators have the practical experience necessary to ensure environmental impact mitigation compliance and minimise disruption to offshore operations. We also provide Passive Acoustic Monitoring PAM equipment, and our expert logistics team can manage visas, travel and mobilisation globally.

Shell Exploration and Production Adopt MMOA Position Statements during Seismic Survey in Bulgaria

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Shell Exploration and Production (LIX) is now being recognised as a key partner in assisting the MMO profession deliver a high standard of environmental protection on offshore projects.  
Shell Exploration and Production (LIX) is a company that regularly contracts Marine Mammal Observers and Passive Acoustic Monitoring operator services as part of a project’s Environmental Management Plan. During the Balkanide 3D survey carried in the Bulgarian sector of the Western Black Sea, Shell adopted the Marine Mammal Observer Association’s (MMOA) Position Statements and best hiring guide for contracting suitably qualified Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operators.
This meant that during the tendering phase of the project Shell Exploration and Production (LIX) adopted the MMOA position statements and analysed CVs from multiple agencies and took preference in their selection by favouring evidence for: 
Relevant academic qualifications and experience in marine mammal surveys/research demonstrating a professional interest in the role.
Candidates who demonstrate Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
Candidates associated and involved with the MMOA.
Candidates with Registered/Chartered status.
Previous Black Sea experience.
We are confident that MMOs and PAM Operators who deliver a consistently reliable and high standard of professional service are an important aspect in the success of offshore projects. We want to take this opportunity to thank Shell for its commitment to maintaining standards, on behalf of the MMOA membership and the industry as a whole. 
The strength of the MMOA, and its ability to improve the MMO service, lies in its experienced membership and the support it has from the wider offshore industry including companies like Shell. 

Recognition with a Professional Institute

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To date four MMOA committee members have gone through the process of professional review with Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology (IMarEST) and successfully achieved either chartered or registered status as marine scientists. This professional status is internationally recognised and respected within the industry and beyond. The MMOA committee has worked closely with IMarEST over the last year and as a result all MMOA members are eligible for affiliate membership with IMarEST free of charge, the first step to obtaining professional recognition.
Becoming registered or chartered as a marine scientist might be easier than you think, you may already have a lot of what the Institute is looking for in your academic background, volunteering and professional development courses in related fields. If you are interested in becoming a chartered or registered marine scientist through IMarEST or any other organization, or would like some information to see what you can do to work towards it contact us by email or on the forum and we will be happy to offer advice and guidance.


For more information on IMarEST watch this Video
Some of the benefits of IMarEST membership includes:
  • Professional qualifications - Becoming Chartered or Registered certifies your competence, allows you to use certain post-nominal titles (e.g CMarSci, RMarSci) and demonstrates commitment to continued professional development. This can lead to better career prospects and the potential for higher earnings. Click here to find out how to become Chartered
  • The Marine Professional -  Members have digital access to IMarEST's monthly magazine, The Marine Profressional.  Also sign up for the weekly newsletter. Click here to sign up for IMarEST's newsletter
  • A wealth of information -  Access IMarEST's Virtual Library, an online collection of resources available via your desktop, tablet or phone. Click here to browse the library
  • Opportunities to collaborate - Access to Nexus - IMarEST's virtual branch and online collaborative environment for connecting and working with other marine professionals. Click here to access Nexus  
  • Local and global events - With a worldwide membership of over 15,000 individuals based in 100 countries there are always activites and events to take part in. On a more global scale take the opportuntiy to network with other marine professionals and support your professional development at IMarEST Conferences, Lectures, Seminars and Training Courses.Click here to find your local IMarEST branch and Click here to view the events calendar

Neil Niru Dorrian Steps in to Chair MMOA Executive Committee

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We are delighted to announce that Neil Niru Dorrian has been appointed to fill the role as Chair of our association due to a vacancy left at the last AGM. We are delighted Niru has put himself forward to help drive the association forward with his strong leadership skills and connections in the industry.
Niru is a marine mammal biologist and a registered marine scientist through the IMarEST with over 12 years’ experience in marine mammal fieldwork, conservation and media. He is experienced in cetacean survey methods, including PAM and photo ID. 
The past decade has seen him work on over 40 offshore projects around the world. He is currently working as an Environmental Advisor within high profile marine protected sites and is the co-founding Director of Whalefish an international not for profit marine research and conservation organisation. 
He also has extensive experience in stranding research, rescue and rehabilitation of delphinid and pinniped species and works regularly with international stranding organisations alongside his work with the MMOA.

Ed Oliver Joins the MMOA Executive Committee

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We are delighted to welcome Ed Oliver as the 11th committee member to the association. We had one vacant place left and we are delighted Ed put himself forward to help drive the association forward.
Ed is a highly experienced PAM Operator and has a wealth of offshore experience in this role.  In addition to his offshore mitigation work, Ed also worked for Seiche Ltd carrying out numerous PAM installations internationally, managing remote monitoring and providing technical support. At Seiche Ed was heavily involved with the writing and delivery of PAM training courses.
Ed's strong IT skills and experience of web-based support means that he will no doubt be a valuable and active member of the committee, able to assist and trouble shoot any potential issues with the MMOA web page and other technical issues. We are happy to welcome him into the MMOA Executive Committee.

An Open Letter To Our Members and Marine Mammal Mitigation Stakeholders

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An Open Letter To Our Members and Marine Mammal Mitigation Stakeholders


The Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA) have become aware that rates paid to many contractors engaged by the oil and gas industry have fallen significantly over recent months. While the MMOA recognise that this is a natural consequence of industry contraction, we are concerned that the emphasis on maintaining high environmental standards may start to decline. Regardless of rates paid the MMOA stress that it is important to ensure that:

  • 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 a MMO or PAM Operator, in addition, appropriate field experience is required.

High industry standards in other areas of operation should be mirrored in mitigation compliance. Mitigation personnel should have experience in seismic survey methods and protected species mitigation, including Passive Acoustics Monitoring (where applicable). Employing inexperienced and unqualified personnel should only be done in a limited capacity and under supervision of experienced personnel.

The MMOA and New Zealand's DOC join forces once again to host a workshop at the 21st Biennial Marine Mammal Conference.

In December 2015 the 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals was held in San Francisco, California. The conference was one of the largest in its 40-year history and saw over 2500 attendees from 80 countries and over 1000 presentations including talks, speed talks and over 500 posters.

Prior to the official start of the Conference two days of workshops were held including the MMOAs workshop on 'Incorporating new mitigation technologies into guidelines for seismic surveys and other underwater acoustic activities and producing performance standards', co-hosted once again with Dr. Andrew Wright from New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (with the support of Mel Cosentino from Wild Earth Foundation). This workshop followed on from the very successful workshop the MMOA and New Zealand’s DOC hosted at the 29th European Cetacean Society Conference in Malta in March 2015.

The workshop in San Francisco was attended by over 50 people representing government, industry, environmental consultants, non-profit and academia. Professional MMOs and PAM Operators were also present, including at least 7 members of the MMOA.

MMOA & New Zealand DoC Publish Proceedings of ECS Workshop

In October 2015 the final Proceedings of the ECS Workshop New Mitigation Methods and Evolving Acoustic Explosure Guidelines were published. The proceedings, edited by Andrew Wright of New Zealand's Deparment of Conservation and Frances Robertson, current MMOA Chair, provides a combination of abstracts and short papers by those presenting at the workshop in Malta. The proceedings end with a summary of the workshop's afternoon discussion session -this summary also includes a list of the key points raised by workshop participants.

The workshop participants and organizers concluded that performance standards are key to addressing current and developting mitigation methods. It is surprising that to date there has been little assessment of the effectiveness of commonly applied mitigation methods -namely MMO and PAM methods and there are no specific standards to which these traditional methods are held. This makes it incredibly difficult to assess the effectiveness of new mitigation technologies. The report highlights the resounding need for minimum standards in terms of qualifications and experience of MMOs and PAM Operators, thier equipment and mitigation/data collection protocols. For example better data collection and reporting protocols would allow regulators greater opportunities to assess the effectiveness of different PAM systems and settings, as well as the effectiveness of MMO-based mitigation compared to PAM-based mitigation.

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.