US Wind, a Baltimore, Maryland-based wind developer, is funding a 10-year program with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) for three research projects aimed at understanding the potential effects of offshore wind development on marine mammals, fish and birds. The research will take place in US Wind’s 80,000-acre federal Lease area off the coast of Ocean City.
“As US Wind works to develop offshore wind off Maryland’s coast, it’s imperative that we do so responsibly,” said Jeff Grybowski, CEO of US Wind. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with UMCES on industry-leading environmental research that will enhance protections for marine life as we develop this clean energy resource for the region.”
The three UMCES research projects are:
- Commercial and Recreational Fisheries Monitoring: The goal of this eight-year program is to evaluate the extent that which black sea bass change their aggregation behaviors before, during and after construction. Black sea bass are structure-oriented with large aggregations occurring on artificial reefs and wrecks. Turbine foundations will add structure within US Wind’s Lease where very little currently exists.
- Near Real-Time Whale Detection: This initiative will continue the deployment of a near real-time whale detection system to provide timely alerts on the presence of baleen whales (North Atlantic right whales, and humpback, fin and sei whales) for a 12-month period from 2022 to 2023.
- Passive Acoustic Monitoring Array: This long-term research project will support passive acoustic monitoring to detect large whales — such as North Atlantic right whales — and dolphins to understand their presence and migration patterns in and around the Lease area and the potential effects of construction.
“The Department appreciates the coordinated research into safer equipment and marine wildlife monitoring,” said Catherine McCall, director of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Office of Ocean and Coastal Management. “The ongoing deployment of Maryland’s whale monitoring buoy provides daily detections and helps resource managers protect sensitive species.”
Additionally, US Wind contracted Normandeau Associates to conduct aerial surveys to identify birds potentially displaced by the wind farm once turbines are installed. These research and monitoring programs inform the federal government for construction and operation approvals on offshore wind projects.
Monitoring these populations is a critical step in conservation to measure changes, track threats and evaluate the success of wildlife management. The projects were selected based on their efficacy and ability to complement existing research efforts in the scientific community. All data will be made available to government and academic researchers, and reports and information will be made publicly available to help protect these important species and ecosystems for generations to come.
“We’re really pleased with this continued partnership with US Wind on important questions related to the environmental impacts of offshore wind development,” said Peter Goodwin, president of UMCES. “We look forward to working with them along with state and federal agencies to help make the best decisions to minimize impacts to the environment.”
News item from US Wind
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