BOEM and NOAA Fisheries Release Draft Right Whale and Offshore Wind Strategy, Request Public Comment

Late last week, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries division released a draft joint strategy that addresses North Atlantic Right Whales and offshore wind. The deadline to submit public comment on the draft strategy is December 2, 2022.

According to the notice for public comment, the draft strategy:

“does not define new policy or regulatory actions; rather, it recognizes efforts to date and identifies areas where BOEM and NOAA Fisheries will work together alongside industry partners in an effort to focus on the information and science needed to responsibly develop offshore wind energy while protecting and recovering the North Atlantic Right Whale.”

BOEM is the lead federal agency responsible for offshore wind resource development while NOAA Fisheries’ manages the nation’s living marine resources, including fisheries, marine endangered and threatened species, and their habitats.

The draft strategy provides an overview of offshore wind development in the Atlantic, the current status of the North Atlantic right whale, and information regarding intersection of the two. The draft then identifies a strategic framework involving three major goals:

Goal 1: Mitigation and Decision-Support Tools

This goal lists three key actions that involve developing measures that avoid or minimize potential impacts of offshore wind on right whales and their habitat, establishing certain performance standards for offshore wind, and creating decision-making development tools.

Goal 2: Research and Monitoring

This goal lists nine key actions that involve identifying research and monitoring needs and understanding potential project-level and cumulative effects of multiple offshore wind projects. Monitoring under the goal would be conducted “to increase knowledge of the species, improve tool development, and enhance understanding of the effects of OSW development” on right whales.

Goal 3: Collaboration, Communication, and Outreach

This goal lists one key action that involves developing a “long-term and proactive coordination strategies, including establishing a NOAA and BOEM NARW and OSW strategy implementation group, and share outreach and communications plans.”

Once the public comment window closes on December 2, the agencies will review submissions and evaluate and update the strategy accordingly.

We will continue to monitor this and other offshore wind developments at BOEM and NOAA.

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