[MARMAM] Support for coordinated ecosystem science on potential impacts of offshore wind energy

Colleen Weiler cweiler at mbayaq.org
Wed Jun 21 17:41:01 PDT 2023


Dear MARMAM Community,

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is engaging scientists with expertise in marine mammals of the California Current Ecosystem to review and add your name to this letter<https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdBDHot1g3bYlxrWXbH4DKQVQALYPNAz0hij3XAhhXOdcrJxg/viewform?usp=sf_link> by June 30, 2023, in support of establishing a collaborative, multi-sector science entity designed to coordinate comprehensive research and monitoring of the environmental effects of offshore wind energy (OWE) off the U.S. West Coast. Adding your signature to this letter would not qualify as a lobbying activity, and it will be made clear that you would be signing as an individual and not on behalf of your institution.

The development of offshore wind facilities off the West Coast introduces a new use of ocean waters and the effects of this development on marine life and ecosystems, including marine mammals and the environmental processes and features that support them, are largely unknown. Coordinated and collaborative research to identify, understand, and assess these effects is needed inform current planning and future decision-making on offshore wind energy. An independent, free-standing regional science entity that engages marine mammal scientists and other taxa experts will build research connections, establish trust in the information collected, and ensure transparency.

Thank you in advance. Please reach out to Eleanore Humphries (ehumphries at mbayaq.org<mailto:ehumphries at mbayaq.org>) and Colleen Weiler (cweiler at mbayaq.org<mailto:cweiler at mbayaq.org>) with any questions. And feel free to share this letter<https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdBDHot1g3bYlxrWXbH4DKQVQALYPNAz0hij3XAhhXOdcrJxg/viewform?usp=sf_link> with others in the science community.

Sincerely,

Margaret Spring

Chief Conservation and Science Officer, Monterey Bay Aquarium



Background & Context

There is a need to establish robust baseline information and understand the environmental impacts of offshore wind energy (OWE) development on marine mammals and other marine life to improve management and mitigation and ensure that strong, science-based environmental protections are included in decision-making. An independent institution created to coordinate and guide wildlife and ecosystem science will build trust in the information collected, ensure transparency and equal access to science, and enhance efficiency in existing and new studies.

The creation of a West Coast Science Entity could advance wildlife and ecosystem research and monitoring of OWE off the U.S. West Coast. Such a science entity would build on the significant body of existing science and regional knowledge on the West Coast, establish clear communication between federal and state agencies that use best available science, and develop a systematic approach for developing new research and monitoring.

An example already exists on the East Coast. The Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative for Offshore Wind (RWSC)<https://rwsc.org/> was established in 2021 to focus on research and monitoring needs associated with OWE on the U.S. Atlantic Coast. The Science Plan being created by the RWSC compiles information about ongoing and planned offshore wind and wildlife data collection and research sourced from states and federal agencies, environmental NGOs, offshore wind companies, and the research community. From this information and with these experts, RWSC identifies research and monitoring gaps and needs, and develops opportunities for collaboration. Information is available in a publicly accessible data portal and cataloged for analyses on various spatial and temporal scales. A West Coast Science Entity can be modeled on the RWSC with the appropriate adjustments to fit West Coast needs and priorities.

The RWSC is supported by taxa-based subcommittees, including a marine mammal group, composed of subject-matter and technical experts working to align data standardization and protocols, improve efficiency in the design of multi-sector studies, ensure that information is transparent and publicly available, and support the collection of compatible data that can be used for cumulative and long-term analyses. Preliminary work accomplished by the RWSC has been used by state and federal agencies to review and prioritize environmental offshore wind studies. Offshore wind developers have committed ongoing funds to be managed and distributed by the RWSC in support of recommendations in the Science Plan.

The vision for a West Coast Science Entity, like its East Coast counterpart, will be to engage state and federal agencies, environmental groups, independent researchers, offshore wind developers, Tribal representatives, issue experts, and traditional knowledge holders in the development of a Science Plan and associated research and monitoring needs and priorities for U.S. West Coast waters.

For more information on the RWSC, offshore wind planning, and the potential effects on marine mammals, please refer to the following:

Background Information

  *   Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative (East Coast)<https://rwsc.org/>
  *   Bureau of Ocean Energy Management - California activities<https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/california>; Oregon activities<https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/Oregon>
  *   Maxwell et al. 2022<https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0301479722001505> - Potential Impacts of Floating Offshore Wind; Farr et al. 2021<https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096456912100096X> - Potential environmental effects of deepwater floating offshore wind energy facilities; Raghukumar<https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-023-00780-y> et al. 2023 Projected cross-shore changes in upwelling induced by offshore wind farm development along the California coast.




Colleen Weiler   (Pronouns:<https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/pronouns> she/her/hers)
Ocean Conservation Policy Analyst
P 831-648-7995

[cid:image001.png at 01D9A467.7C0A8030]
Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940
www.montereybayaquarium.org<http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/>
Our mission is to inspire conservation of the ocean.

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