Offshore Energies UK & Xodus launch oil and gas platform bird census to protect endangered species

May 02, 2024

(WO) — The offshore energy industry is taking a significant step toward understanding and protecting endangered seabirds with the launch of the Offshore Nesting Bird Census (ONBC).

Spearheaded by Dr. MacNeill Ferguson, an ecological specialist from energy consultants Xodus, the census aims to shed light on how these birds utilize oil and gas platforms for nesting and raising chicks.

Scheduled for June 2024, the ONBC will provide crucial data on the geographic distribution and usage patterns of these unconventional breeding sites. This initiative, supported by the government's Joint Nature Conservation Committee, is welcomed by the industry as it seeks to address concerns about the declining populations of species like kittiwakes, razorbills, guillemots, herring gulls, and carrion crows.

The census holds particular importance as much of the North Sea's oil and gas infrastructure undergoes decommissioning. By providing up-to-date information on sea bird behavior, the survey will inform decision-making processes during decommissioning, ensuring minimal disturbance to nesting birds as required by law.

Caroline Brown, Environment Manager at Offshore Energies, expressed enthusiasm for the ONBC, emphasizing its potential to become an annual exercise. She highlighted the importance of understanding nesting behavior to protect declining seabird populations.

Dr. MacNeill Ferguson emphasized the collaborative opportunity for operators, stressing the benefits of sharing ecological data for informed decision-making and ecological conservation in the North Sea.

To engage stakeholders further, a live Q&A session with Dr. MacNeill Ferguson will take place on May 8th, 2024, from 12:00 to 12:45, in collaboration with the E-Reps Network. This interactive session will provide insights into the census methodology, goals, and the significance of protecting offshore nesting sites.

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