Assessing the potential impacts of offshore developments on local marine life

Kat Majewska, Marine Consultant

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Kat joined us in March 2021, just a couple of months after graduating with her MSc degree. Below, she shares some great advice for future consultants and gives us an in-depth look at what her job entails.

QTell us about your current role – what do you do?

I work on assessing the impacts of various offshore developments on marine receptors, mainly focusing on marine mammals. For each development, we usually kick off with a desktop review to build a picture of the local fauna. It includes search and consideration of statutory designated sites (those that are internationally, nationally and regionally important sites for marine mammals), desk-based assessment and review of ecological baseline survey data, the resulting survey reports and associated documents. I also review any other information considered relevant. In the meantime, I usually start working on the Scoping report, which should set out proposed marine mammals assessment methodology, identification of the key marine mammal receptors which have the potential to be affected by the proposed development and identification of the key impacts to be assessed in the final ES marine mammal chapter. Working on the final ES chapter usually takes a couple of months.

Therefore, my work is usually desk-based. I can see how I progressed over the last couple of months and recently I’ve been given a chance to perform as a Project Manager for the project, where my responsibilities include acting as the first point of contact with the client.

QWhat are your most exciting past or present projects?

For me, each project associated with offshore infrastructure is exciting, especially floating wind, wave and/or tidal developments. All of these projects are an example of advanced and new technology, making their first steps in the commercial size developments. It is extremely stimulating to know that the UK continues to lead in offshore renewable energy and that we have an opportunity to lay the groundwork for similar developments all over the world.  

QWhat was your career path?

I hold a BSc in Environmental Protection and Management. After graduating I spent 2 years working in analytical science (environmental analysis). At that point, I decided I want to pursue my career in Marine Science. I studied Marine Biodiversity at HW University and graduated receiving a distinction. I was very proactive, engaging in workshops and events organised by MASTS and/or Marine Conservation Society. I undertook additional training, including the EIA professional training and Marine Mammal Observer course. I joined IEMA and CIEEM as a student member, working to increase my professional competence. Prior to joining RPS, I worked as a freelance fisheries advisor for a couple of months. 

QDo you have any advice for someone who wants to pursue a career in your profession?

Be proactive. Start with solid research about organisations that are involved in activities you’re interested in. Don’t be afraid to take the initiative and make contact with people from the organisation via LinkedIn (create a good profile for yourself first!) Be honest and say what are you passionate about and how do you think their work is important/interesting/valuable. When you connect or follow interesting people on LinkedIn it opens a sea of opportunities – you can get a better insight into what these professionals are talking about, what are the hot topics to help address any gaps in your understanding of certain issues. And stay informed about upcoming conferences and webinars to attend.

Become a professional body member. It not only looks good on your CV but also gives you access to information, training and networking opportunities. I can assure you that the number of things you can learn from their websites and magazines is astonishing.

Invest in additional training. Professional bodies and other professional organisations offer a variety of courses that can help your development. Try to not be discouraged by the price – believe me, it will pay off!