The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) have released a joint strategy to protect and promote the recovery of North Atlantic right whales while responsibly developing offshore wind energy. The draft strategy identifies the agencies’ goals and objectives to better understand the effects of offshore wind development on the whales and their habitat. The public is invited to review and comment on the draft strategy by December 4, 2022.
The draft strategy identifies areas where the agencies will work together to improve the necessary science, information and Indigenous knowledge to support the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of developing 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 while protecting biodiversity and promoting ocean co-use. It provides a clear path forward to expand upon existing efforts to understand, mitigate and monitor potential impacts. Additionally, the draft strategy provides a long-term approach to adaptive management by integrating new information as it becomes available.
“BOEM is deeply committed to ensuring responsible offshore wind energy development while protecting and promoting the recovery of the North Atlantic right whale,” says BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “Working with NOAA Fisheries on this draft strategy leverages the resources and expertise of both agencies to collect and apply the best available information to inform our future decisions. We’re seeking open and honest feedback from the public to help us evaluate and improve this effort.”
“As we face the ongoing challenges of climate change, this strategy provides a strong foundation to help us advance renewable energy while also working to protect and recover North Atlantic right whales, and the ecosystem they depend on,” comments Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, and acting assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at NOAA. “Responsible development of renewable energy sources and protecting our endangered North Atlantic right whales are priorities both agencies share.”
The draft strategy identifies three main goals: mitigation and decision-support tools; research and monitoring; and collaboration, communication, and outreach. It focuses on improving the science and integrating past, present and future efforts related to North Atlantic right whales and offshore wind development. The strategy also establishes the agencies’ plans to engage stakeholders, partners and other ocean users on these issues. Following review of public comments, the strategy will be finalized and then regularly evaluated and updated as new information becomes available.
This announcement initiates a 45-day public review and comment period on the draft strategy. Comments on the guidance can be submitted via regulations.gov from October 21 to December 4, 2022 under Docket Number BOEM-2022-0066. For more information about the draft strategy and how to submit comments, visit BOEM’s website.