Marine mammal observation (MMO) is an important management measure and regulatory requirement for offshore petroleum activities. Marine mammal observers are routinely required to observe, monitor and record interactions between offshore activities and marine mammals such as whales and dolphins, to ensure that potential impacts are avoided, whilst collecting important data on marine mammal distribution and behaviours, and their interaction with offshore activities.
The findings of a senate inquiry into the effects of seismic testing on fisheries and the marine environment were released in June 2021. A key recommendation of the committee is the revision of EPBC Act Policy Statement 2.1 – Interaction between offshore seismic exploration and whales: Industry Guidelines to encompass a broader extent of marine animals, such as marine turtles, and to require the use of independent, trained observers.
ERIAS has several personnel trained in MMO, with experience in areas such as Bass Strait (Gippsland, Otway, and Bass Basins), the Gulf of St Vincent, the New South Wales coast, and the Coral Sea. ERIAS continues to enhance its capability in this space with ongoing training and experience (including BOSIET and MSIC certification) to obtain the marine mammal observer qualifications for associate membership of the MMO Association.