The Inside, NOAA’s Ink Whale and Offshore Wind Strategy


NOAA Fisheries and the Department of the Interior released a draft strategy on Friday to protect the endangered right whale amid an impending boom in offshore wind development.

Draft outlines a plan for the two agencies to engage with the public and ocean users. It also sets out several main goals for raising wind turbines while trying to recover the whale population, such as prioritizing mitigation, new research and monitoring, and improving communication.

“BOEM is deeply committed to ensuring responsible development of offshore wind energy while protecting and promoting the recovery of the North Atlantic right whale,” said Amanda Lefton, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, a deputy – Interior agency.

She said the project would allow them to leverage each agency’s expertise.

Better coordination between NOAA Fisheries and BOEM was a major concern among some states and industry groups after the two disagreed during the Trump administration over the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the United States – Vineyard Wind off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard (E&E News PMJuly 29, 2019).

Both agencies are key to assessing the impacts on marine life and fisheries of building large-scale wind farms in the ocean, and their approval is needed for developers to obtain construction permits.

More than a dozen offshore wind farms are proposed or approved for construction in federal waters off the coast of New England. A key part of the Biden administration’s decarbonization push is to raise 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.

But this region is also the right whale’s feeding ground, where it feeds during the fall months before heading south to give birth.

Commercial whaling in the 1800s nearly wiped out the whale population, which fell to just 350 animals. Vulnerable to ship strikes and entanglements, the whale also suffers from a low birth rate that could be linked to food shortages, according to NOAA Fisheries.

Climate change may also be a growing challenge in the species’ recovery, shifting its distribution to regions less protected from ship strikes, according to NOAA.

The NOAA and BOEM agreement is open for public comment until December 4. It follows a memorandum of understanding the two agencies signed in January to collaborate.

Janet Coit, assistant administrator of NOAA Fisheries and acting assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at NOAA, said the agencies share common goals of offshore wind development and whale protection. frank.

“As we face the ongoing challenges of climate change, this strategy provides a strong foundation to help us advance renewable energy while working to protect and recover North Atlantic right whales and the ecosystem. on which they depend,” she said.


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