The key benefits of the Offshore Bird Portal

MacNeill Ferguson 
Ecological Specialist

All birds are protected species in the UK/Europe, and operators are expected to have a thorough awareness of the birds that may be impacted by their operations. They must be proactive in the management of birds on their assets including: the collation of relevant baseline data, seabird management planning, deterrent strategies, remedial works, and the provision of ornithological surveys, particularly in the run up to decommissioning (to minimise disturbance to nesting birds).

Information on how birds utilise platforms in UK waters and up to date information on their spatial distribution remains patchy or limited. Further, the underlying data that is being used for environmental submissions in the industry is now dated. Currently, no central repository exists for the sharing of bird survey data and observations data made on assets Therefore, Xodus have developed an industry database and toolkit for this purpose – The Offshore Bird Portal (OBP).

The OBP is a digital data repository for the energy industry which facilitates the long-term collation of relevant geographic and seasonal data relating to seabirds and migrants/vagrant visitors) on offshore platforms and structures. It is a not-for-profit database and toolkit provided to the industry for the advancement of knowledge, scientific understanding, and ecological awareness. The portal is managed by ecologists at Xodus Group, who maintain the portal, manage the data submissions, and provide a bird identification service to help offshore personnel with challenging species observations. It is designed to aid informed bird management decision-making and planning. There are many benefits of contributing to this new database:

  • The portal will provide operators with relevant baseline data for their Block/Quadrant of interest.
  • Accurate data can be used to facilitate environmental reporting (EIA/ES/OPEP development).
  • Regular monitoring will provide more appropriate data for effective environmental decision making and compliance.
  • It will provide an understanding of potential receptors arising from oil spills around your platforms or pipelines.
  • Accurate data on how birds utilise/occupy a platform will lead to more effective assessment when evaluating Marine Net Gain.
  • It will provide an early warning system for assessing operational impacts such Avian Flu, guano build up or nesting birds.
  • It will give the scientific community a better understanding of bird geographic distribution, annual migration patterns, and provide a means to collate ecological information on mass mortality events, impacts from light pollution and changes in bird distribution and behaviour due to climate change.

Contributing data from each of your UKCS assets not only provides a long term and highly relevant dataset that will form the basis of environmental decision making and regulatory submissions, but also represents good stewardship.

You can sign up to the OBP today via this link:  Offshore Bird Portal - register your interest

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