NOAA Fisheries is issuing the final Biological Opinion under the Endangered Species Act to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM, lead federal agency) considering the effects of the construction, operation, and eventual decommissioning of the proposed Ocean Wind 1 offshore energy project off the coast of New Jersey on threatened and endangered species. NOAA Fisheries has evaluated BOEM’s analysis of the effects of this project on endangered and threatened species, as well as the best scientific and commercial data available, and has concluded that the proposed action is likely to adversely affect, but is not likely to jeopardize, the continued existence of any species of ESA-listed whales, sea turtles, or Atlantic sturgeon or destroy or adversely modify any designated critical habitat.
The proposed project includes a number of measures designed to minimize, monitor, and report effects to ESA-listed species and additional measures are included through the Biological Opinion’s Incidental Take Statement. No serious injury or mortality of any ESA-listed whale is anticipated as a result of the proposed project. We do not expect any right whales to be exposed to increased sound levels that would result in injury; all effects to right whales will be limited to temporary behavioral disturbance. Additionally, no effects to the features of right whale critical habitat are anticipated.
BOEM is the lead federal agency for approving the construction, operation, and decommissioning of the proposed Ocean Wind 1 offshore energy project. Other authorizations or permits will be required from a number of other federal agencies. NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Protected Resources is also proposing to issue regulations and associated Letter of Authorization pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which was evaluated through the Biological Opinion as well. We will continue working closely with BOEM and other federal agencies to ensure effects to NOAA Fisheries’ trust resources are minimized.