NBC Environment were contacted by an oil and gas company to consult and advise on the legislation and protection afforded to seabirds in a marine environment and advise on a strategy to manage their protection. NBC Environment were required to complete a detailed seabird abundance survey on all their offshore platforms, which were based in the Irish Sea.
We would use our 30 years of experience and expertise and the knowledge gained from a similar project, which was conducted in the North Sea. Producing a comprehensive report and making recommendations to mitigate the risk of disturbing seabirds during the bird breeding season.
Our objective was to ensure that offshore operations did not breach legislation in regard to interfering with breeding sea birds on offshore platforms.
There were three Stages of Work.
Planning started by following OPRED survey guidelines on disturbance and the requirements for data capture.
The survey was completed onboard a sea vessel and preparation was made for logistics, risk assessments, PPE and appropriate survey and data capture equipment required.
Specialised training and medicals were completed to the same level of requirements for working in an offshore environment.
A qualified and experienced bird expert was briefed on each platform type, layout design and was provided plans and data sheets for marking nesting activity locations, species and volumes.
Excellent communication included, rpe-brief meetings which were held over teams with all parties and involved covering topics from logistical challenges to legislation requirements, to risk and safety methods and the method statement process.
Surveying was completed on a moving vessel, over a continuous period of 7 days at sea. Working at sea on a vessel has many additional hazards and dangers, so daily planning, and excellent communication of requirements both for the vessel and the personnel on board was paramount.
The weather also plays a major factor offshore and flexibility was key to ensure the survey could be completed whilst maintaining the vessels safety.
Cooperation between the captain of the vessel and their team, the oil company responsible for the platforms, and the needs of the surveyor was finely balanced for all objectives to be achieved.
Having collated the vast amount of information including the photos, data capture sheets and location markings, these were compiled into a report which can be read and understood by all parties clearly indicating the risk species and areas for potential disturbance.
The disturbance risk was assessed by species as should there be any specific essential repairs or maintenance or normal regular operations in these areas then a licence application would be required, and this detail is essential in preparing the application.
In terms of forward planning where there are nesting birds a recommendation was made to either proof the area before the following breeding season or consider a proposal for some other means of deterrent, which was recommended to reduce the volume of birds which may be affected.
All of this is activity and investment is used to reduce the risk of disturbing the successful breeding of seabirds some of which are endangered, unless it is done through licenced permission, which is only used to ensure safe commercial operations.
Read more about our offshore bird control services