NOAA Fisheries and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced the release of their final joint strategy to protect and promote the recovery of endangered North Atlantic right whales while responsibly developing offshore wind energy.
The joint strategy identifies the agencies’ goals and key actions to continue to evaluate and mitigate the potential effects of offshore wind energy development on North Atlantic right whales and their habitat. It also builds on existing mitigation measures that are already in place to protect North Atlantic right whales from the potential impacts of offshore wind development.
Under this strategy, NOAA Fisheries and BOEM will take several actions to avoid, minimize, and monitor impacts to North Atlantic right whales from offshore wind development. For example, the agencies will advance current and novel technologies—such as uncrewed systems, artificial intelligence, and passive acoustic monitoring—to achieve the strategy’s mitigation, research, and monitoring goals.
Other specific actions called for in the strategy include:
- Avoiding leasing in areas where major impacts to right whales may occur.
- Establishing noise limits during construction.
- Supporting research to develop new avoidance and minimization technologies; and
- Prioritizing research, development, and implementation of mitigation related to quieting technology and methods for offshore wind development.
This strategy exemplifies how the Administration’s all-of-government approach can leverage the resources and expertise of federal agencies like BOEM and NOAA Fisheries to protect ocean biodiversity and co-use while helping ensure the responsible development of offshore wind energy to address the climate crisis.
It is also a key component of NOAA Fisheries’ North Atlantic Right Whale Road to Recovery, a plan that encapsulates our ongoing work across the agency and in collaboration with partners to address threats to the species and monitor recovery progress. The North Atlantic right whale is one of the world’s most endangered large whale species. The latest estimate suggests there are approximately 360 remaining, with fewer than 70 reproductively active females. Climate change is affecting every aspect of right whales’ survival—changing their ocean habitat, their migratory patterns, the location and availability of their prey, and even their risk of becoming entangled in fishing gear or being struck by vessels.
For more information on the strategy, go to our website.