New joint strategy covers fisheries surveys in US offshore wind development areas

Photo: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries (NOAA Fisheries) have crafted a joint strategy to address potential impacts of offshore wind energy development on NOAA Fisheries’ scientific surveys.

The Federal Survey Mitigation Strategy will help ensure the quality of NOAA’s fisheries surveys and data are maintained while the nation develops offshore wind energy, said Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, acting assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, and deputy NOAA administrator.

During the environmental review of the first offshore wind energy project on the US Outer Continental Shelf, BOEM and NOAA Fisheries identified major adverse impacts on surveys conducted in the Northeast region. In response, a draft survey mitigation strategy was developed and made available for public comment earlier this year.

Now finalised, the strategy identifies the essential components of mitigating the impacts of offshore wind energy development on the surveys.

The five goals of the strategy are the following:

  1. Mitigate impacts of offshore wind energy development on NOAA Fisheries surveys.
  2. Evaluate and integrate, where feasible, wind energy development monitoring studies with NOAA Fisheries surveys.
  3. Collaboratively plan and implement NOAA Fisheries survey mitigation with partners, stakeholders, and other ocean users using the principles of best scientific information available and co-production of knowledge, including fishermen’s local ecological knowledge and indigenous traditional ecological knowledge.
  4. Adaptively implement this strategy recognising the long-term nature of the surveys and the dynamic nature of wind energy development, survey technology and approaches, marine ecosystems, and human uses of marine ecosystems.
  5. Advance coordination between NOAA Fisheries and BOEM in the execution of the strategy and share experiences and lessons learned with other regions and countries where offshore wind energy development is being planned and underway.

Although focused on New England and the Mid-Atlantic, the strategy will serve as a model to address the impacts of offshore wind on NOAA Fisheries surveys in other regions.

Nationally, NOAA Fisheries assesses the status of approximately 450 fishery stocks, 200 marine mammal stocks, and 165 threatened and endangered species (recognising that some marine mammals are also endangered). These assessments rely on more than 50 long-term, standardised surveys, many of which have been ongoing for more than 30 years.


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