TRAINED OBSERVERS

A Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) recording data during a marine seismic survey. © OSC 2014.

A Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) recording data during a marine seismic survey. © OSC 2014.

New Zealand’s Department Of Conservations (DOC) ‘2013 code of conduct for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals from seismic survey operations’, the Code, gives detailed requirements for ‘trained’ and ‘qualified’ observers (DOC, 2013). Observers in this sense are considered to be  Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) or Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operators.

A trained MMO or PAM Operator must have completed the respective MMO or PAM DOC-approved full training course or assessment process (www.osc-nz.co.nz/training), in order to demonstrate required competencies outlined in MMO/PAM standards (www.mmoandpamoperatorstandards.co.nz). MMO and PAM Operators new to the field have to complete a full course, whereas experienced MMOs and PAM Operators can complete an assessment, though this still involves an intensive workshop and assessment. The qualifications are not interchangeable, i.e. if an MMO completes an MMO course they cannot work as a PAM Operator until they have completed a PAM course. Information on qualified observers is found at: www.nzqualifiedobserver.co.nz

While the Code prefers a presence of two qualified MMOs and two qualified PAM Operators on-board every level 1 seismic survey (www.nzlevel1seismicsurveys.co.nz), one qualified and one trained observer is allowed in each role, if the qualified observer acts as a mentor to the trained observer. Please see www.nzqualifiedobserver.co.nz for further details on interim provisions made in the Code.

REFERENCES

DOC (2013): 2013 Code of conduct for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals from seismic survey operations.
Publishing Team, Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand, pp. 36.