Car Tourismo Banner
Home » Breaking News » Sights trained on future of Shannon Estuary

Sights trained on future of Shannon Estuary

Car Tourismo Banner

The first industry endorsed marine mammal observer (MMO) training programme which aims to train young professionals who are seeking fulfilling careers in marine ecology and sustainable energy has been completed by the Electricity Supply Board (ESB).
Five applicants who took part in industry-approved training courses recently successfully completed the course and it is hoped these professionals will be key components in the delivery of offshore wind projects over the coming decade. Ireland has a unique capability for such delivery given its prime location which will enable the country to take advantage of the potential of offshore wind.
Support for the programme was provided by the Kilrush-based Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) along with the Marine Mammal Observer Association, and the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology. Participants in the initiative took part in MMO training provided by IWDG and spent two nights onboard the research vessel, Celtic Mist at Kilrush followed by a half-day at sea.
Qualified MMOs are environmental professionals who specialise in monitoring marine megafauna species and ensure the implementation of mitigation requirements during various industry operations.
The programme’s key objective was to assist in developing marine ecology education and skills to support the successful applicants at the early stages of their marine environmental careers. Another aim was to fill a gap in the Irish offshore wind industry’s local supply chain due to a lack of locally based MMOs on the island of Ireland. The training initiative which was launched in 2023, is significant for the ESB. Demonstrating its commitment to supporting the MMO role in Ireland and nurturing local talent will be essential in the delivery of its’ net zero targets by 2040. Funding has facilitated opportunities for the organisation to enhance skilled work readiness and strengthen local talent in collaborating with organisations like the IWDG as Ireland expands renewable energy.
The IWDG Officer who carried out the training, Patrick Lyne told The Clare Champion what the ESB has done is a “huge boost”. Mr Lyne is the only person in Ireland who is certified by the UK training body to deliver the course, and has been carrying out such training since 2021.
Typically, those undertaking the MMO course are young professionals; marine biology graduates or people who have studied the marine, and are seeking fulfilling careers in marine ecology and sustainable energy. The Castletownbere based marine scientist said the training itself lasts a lifetime however, some elements like safety training needs to be supplemented and updated. He highlighted that in around three years time, when the off-shore floating wind farms are built off the coast of West Clare, there will be an increased demand for MMOs in the area, and the nature of the work tends to be short-time.
Explaining the IWDG’s collaboration with the ESB, he said:
“You cannot do anything anywhere without having an environmental assessment. We try to do it in as responsible a manner as possible, and there are a whole swathe of measurements you would hope to be applied, and generally around the whole industry it is better for them to know. Strict works better for industry; they can budget towards it and realise the measures before hand. They know they get permits if they do x, y and z and, and so everyone is happy as it were. I would hope what the Irish regulator and the IWDG would want wouldn’t be a mile apart.”
One of the newly trained MMOs, Amy O’Reilly shared her insights into the experience:
“The ESB MMO training programme has been a wonderful opportunity and unforgettable experience for me. When I first applied, I had a history of volunteering with marine wildlife charities and was in the middle of a nine-month internship with the cetacean charity, Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch. ESB recognised my passion and drive towards building a career in the marine science field. Some of my highlights from the programme included sleeping on board the Celtic Mist, undergoing training by the very wise and seasoned MMO Mr Patrick Lyne and, of course, escaping from a helicopter underwater in the BOSIET training. I am delighted to say that with this training as a foundation, I have been able to get my first MMO role with IWDG Consulting working on a short project in Dublin Port”.
The five new graduate MMOs took part in industry-approved training courses including basic offshore safety induction and emergency training (BOSIET), United Kingdom’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) MMO training certifications with additional Irish guideline modules, and Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) approved medical and fit-to-train certifications.
Participants were also provided with one-year complimentary membership of IWDG, the Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA) and the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) with professional mentoring support and access to the Career Development Pathway.

Sharon Dolan D'Arcy

Sharon Dolan D'Arcy is originally from Ennis. Her work as a print journalist has appeared in a number of regional publications. She worked as court reporter at The Sligo Weekender newspaper and is a former editor of The Athenry News and Views. She covers West Clare news.

About Sharon Dolan D'Arcy

Sharon Dolan D'Arcy is originally from Ennis. Her work as a print journalist has appeared in a number of regional publications. She worked as court reporter at The Sligo Weekender newspaper and is a former editor of The Athenry News and Views. She covers West Clare news.

Check Also

Extended lifeguard cover ‘will save lives’ says Grant

EXTENDING the lifeguard season on Clare’s popular beaches will save lives in the future, according …