Marine and coastal environment specialists, BMT Oceanica (BMT), a subsidiary of BMT Group Ltd., has commenced its latest project with Pluton Resources Ltd (Pluton) to increase knowledge of marine fauna around the Irvine and Cockatoo Islands off the Kimberle.y coast of Western Australia. This will involve further engagement with the Malaya People, the traditional owners (TOs) of Irvine Island.
The collection of marine fauna data will assist Pluton to meet their environmental approvals requirements for any expansion plans of mining operations on Cockatoo Island and the possible infrastructure development of iron ore mining on Irvine Island.
Jeremy Bower,Manager of Government Approvals and External Affairs at Pluton commented, “A key part of our philosophy at Pluton is ensuring we uphold the highest standards of environmental and social responsibility. Working with the Mayala People, TOs of Irvine Island and the Dambimangari People, TOs of Cockatoo Island in their country gives us the best insight as a company that we are on the right path. BMT is playing a key role in helping us to develop the required marine fauna survey programs and provide the necessary training for the TOs to carry out this work effectively.”
The monitoring of whales, dugongs, dolphins and turtles will be completed via a vessel survey and a land based assessment where data on local occurrences, relative abundance, general behaviors and travel directions will be collected to provide a better understanding of marine fauna seasonality and usage of these waters. This monitoring will coincide with the presence of humpback whales in Yampi Sound given the emphasis placed on these mammals by regulators during the environmental approvals process.
BMT has provided the survey design and associated training, as well as reporting and QAQC (Quality Assurance, Quality Control) within the initial stages of this 12 month project.
BMT will also provide staff at Pluton with Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) training which will enable them to work effectively as MMOs during any marine construction activities including piling and blasting.
Dr. Adam Gartner, Marine Ecologist at BMT Oceanica commented, “Due to the remoteness of this region, there is very little data or published information available on marine fauna. By applying empirical scientific approaches, coupled with the traditional knowledge held by the TOs from thousands of years living and hunting in the region, we can help Pluton to strengthen their understanding of marine fauna. This will ensure that the necessary data is available for environmental approvals processes and informing those responsible for environmental management during mining operations.”