Global energy consultancy Xodus has developed a new not-for-profit portal which will support the industry in tracking birds utilising offshore platforms in the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS).
The Offshore Bird Portal (OBP) is a digital data repository which will encourage the long-term collation of relevant geographic and seasonal data relating to seabirds and migrants (passerines) on offshore platforms and structures.
The number of birds that utilise offshore platforms extends beyond gulls, auks and other seabirds found in UK waters. A long-term bird monitoring programme in the Norwegian North Sea recorded 159 different bird species (seabirds and migrants), utilising platforms over a nine-year period. However, information on how birds utilise platforms in UK waters and up to date information on their spatial distribution remains limited.
UK operators are now expected to be more proactive in the management of birds on platforms and undertake additional ornithological surveys, particularly in the run up to decommissioning to minimise disturbance to nesting birds. This data will inform effective decision making by operators, offers up-to-date information on the birds in the area and provides a data source that is of interest to the scientific community.
The database and toolkit will be offered for the advancement of knowledge, scientific understanding, and ecological awareness across the energy industry. It will be managed by ecologists at Xodus, who maintain the portal, handle data submissions and provide a bird identification service to help offshore personnel with challenging species observations.
Dr MacNeill Ferguson, Ecological Specialist at Xodus said: “There was great work done in the past – notably by the North Sea Bird Club – however underlying bird data that is used for environmental submissions in the industry is now dated. The OBP is a central repository for the sharing of bird survey data and observations data made on platforms. Better understanding of how and when birds use offshore platforms provides operators with the tools to make informed bird management and planning decisions. This will provide an invaluable industry resource that improves our understanding of ecological processes and informs operator assessment of marine net gain.”
“We would encourage operators with UKCS assets to sign up to the OBP and contribute data from each of their assets. The collation of this data not only will provide a long term and relevant data set that will form the basis of environmental decision making but also represents good environmental stewardship.”
Dr Ferguson added: “The goal is to provide a toolbox of information and resources that is available to all contributors to the project. In time, once sufficient data is collated, this will be made available to the scientific community to help the industry better understand the interactions between birds and offshore activities. There is already interest with NGOs and universities on the data that can be collated.”
An Offshore Bird Portal Workshop will take place on March 2 for OEUK members. For further information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org