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E-TWG Activities

Guidance for Pre- and Post-Construction Monitoring to Detect Changes in Marine Bird Distributions and Habitat Use Related to Offshore Wind Energy Development

A expert Specialist Committee, convened by The Environmental Technical Working Group (E-TWG), and co-chaired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), developed guidance for pre-and post-construction monitoring to detect macro-to mesoscale changes in avian distributions and habitat use in relation to offshore wind development. 

  

Guidance for Pre- and Post-Construction Monitoring

The guidance developed by the Committee identifies key displacement- and attraction-related questions, appropriate methodologies to address those questions, and study design and analytical recommendations specifically for boat-based and aerial surveys. The recommendations are specifically focused on:

  • Marine birds and offshore wind development in the U.S. Atlantic, though are broadly relevant to other geographies

  • Studies of changes in movement behavior, distributions, and habitat use

  • Studies intended to detect effects of offshore wind development, not assess risk or characterize avian resources prior to construction

  • Informing project-specific monitoring as encouraged by the U.S. regulatory framework, although many recommendations are also applicable to studies at larger scales.

Existing Data for Site Assessment

In addition to the primary product described above, the Specialist Committee also recognized a need for more detailed guidance on the sufficiency of existing avian observational survey data for site characterization purposes. As such, the Committee developed a series of recommendations aimed to inform an update or addendum to the existing BOEM's avian survey guidelines for site characterization. These recommendations include criteria for the evaluation of existing data for site characterization purposes related to age, spatial and temporal scale, quality, applicability to taxa of interest, data transparency, and use of regional distribution models.

Image by Ray Hennessy
Image by Maria Maliy
Image by Nicholas Doherty

Public Feedback Process

During the development of the guidance above, the Specialist Committee initiated an opportunity for the wider stakeholder community to provide input in the form of a public webinar held on October 16th, 2023.  

Specialist Committee Membership

The avian displacement committee is co-chaired by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Committee member affitilations include the British Trust for Ornithology, CSS, Inc. under contract to NOAA NCCOS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Orsted, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Biodiversity Research Institute, Terra Mar Applied Sciences, LLC under contract to National Audubon Society, AECOM, Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc., Normandeau, The Nature Conservancy, HiDef Aerial Surveying, TotalEnergies, and Renewable Energy Wildlife Institute. Committee meetings are also attended by bird/bat science staff from the Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative. The committee is moderated by NYSERDA, with technical support provided by the Biodiversity Research Institute.

Photo credits: Dogfish shark © Boris Pamikov - shutterstock;Razorbill © Ray Hennessy; Gulls © Maria Maliy; Wind turbines © Nicholas Doherty

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