New publication: ‘Effects of a new offshore gas platform on harbor porpoises in the Dogger Bank’.

Ocean Science Consulting Limited (OSC) is excited to announce the publication of our latest peer-reviewed paper, entitled ‘Effects of a new offshore gas platform on harbor porpoises in the Dogger Bank’. Published in Marine Mammal Science. The work is authored by OSC’s Managing Director, Dr Victoria Todd; Senior Analyst, Dr Laura Williamson; Statistical Modeller, Ana Couto; Managing Director, Ian Todd; and Dr Phillip Clapham.

To date, the impact of offshore Oil and Gas (O&G) production platforms on marine mammals has been predominantly studied in the context of short-term mitigation. This study, however, used self-contained passive echolocation-click detectors (C-PODs) to evaluate the presence of harbour porpoise from 2015-2020, over three phases; baseline prior to platform installation, during platform installation, and during unmanned production. The intention is to continue this work over the lifetime of the platform until its eventual decommissioning and this paper presents some of the first results, with several additional publications planned, including additional field studies in 2022.

A key finding of this project was that, despite an initial statistically significant decrease in porpoise detections following platform construction and initial drilling operations (2015-2016), detections returned to baseline levels within five months. These results have potential implications for the ongoing Rigs-to-Reef debate, as well as Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), which do not currently consider impacts of platforms on marine mammals in the long-term.

We are also very excited to be presenting this work this week at the International Conference on the Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life in Berlin, Germany.

This work has been made possible by Petrogas allowing OSC to deploy C-PODs around the A18 gas-production platform in the Dutch sector of the North Sea, and for releasing OSC from Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in order to publish the findings. This is the third of OSC’s published papers studying the A18 platform, with the previous characterising first and second waves of fish an invertebrate colonisation of the platform using Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) footage.

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