Synthesis of Regional Research Priorities and Recommendations
About the Effort
The Environmental Technical Working Group (E-TWG) is undertaking an effort to inform and provide interim guidance for regional-scale research and monitoring of offshore wind energy and wildlife in the eastern United States. This effort is being pursued via an expert workgroup under the purview of the E-TWG, with additional support from the Offshore Wind Synthesis of Environmental Effects Research (SEER) project team. The workgroup, which was initiated in late 2021, aims to inform the allocation of funding for regional research and monitoring by developing two products:
Database of research needs and data gaps identified from existing sources (e.g., State of the Science Workgroups, federal and state agency efforts, previous E-TWG Specialist Committees, etc.). This database compiles and synthesizes existing data gaps and research needs so that researchers and funders can easily access, sort, and further prioritize topics. The database specifies focal taxa, spatial scale, and other information relating to each priority research topic.
Interim guidance for regional-scale research to complement the database. Written guidance will include definitions of common terminology to support regional communications, general suggested criteria for prioritization of regional research topics, and general recommendations on study design and data transparency for regional-scale research efforts.
Potential end users of these products include:
State and other government entities who are funding regional research in the next 1-3 years. There is a need to help inform the use of funding dedicated to regional research that is arising from offshore wind solicitations and research solicitations in multiple states.
Offshore wind developers who are funding regional research and monitoring efforts.
Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative (RWSC) processes. End products could help inform discussions of science plans for taxon-specific subcommittees and other RWSC efforts as appropriate.
Opportunities for Public Feedback (closed)
A public meeting was held on July 13, 2022 co-hosted by the regional synthesis workgroup and the Responsible Offshore Science Alliance (ROSA) to facilitate communication and coordination among groups that are focused on identifying research needs and/or funding regional research to better understand the effects of offshore wind energy development on wildlife, fisheries, and marine ecosystems in the eastern U.S. The meeting focused on prioritization criteria and processes to help identify priority studies for funding in the immediate term. The below summary captures key points of discussion during the meeting as well as from written responses to an online survey distributed during the meeting to solicit additional feedback. Feedback on the prioritization criteria will be incorporated into the general guidance for regional-scale research and monitoring that is in development by the regional synthesis workgroup.
A public comment period was open until October 12, 2022 for feedback on the Wildlife Research Priorities Database
A meeting was held on September 28 (recording below) to provide an overview of the development process and to share a beta version of the database for stakeholder input. A beta version of the Wildlife Research Priorities Database (view only) and the associated ReadMe file are currently available. We are in the process of reviewing and addressing comments and plan to finalize the Wildlife Research Priorities Database by the end of 2022.
Regional Synthesis Workgroup Membership
The regional synthesis workgroup includes representatives from the following organizations: the Belgian Royal Institute of Natural Sciences, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Duke University, Equinor Wind US, INSPIRE Environmental,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, National Marine Fisheries Service/Northeast Fisheries Science Center, New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Natural Resources Defense Council, Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative, Responsible Offshore Science Alliance, Rutgers University, Stony Brook University, The Nature Conservancy, TotalEnergies, University of Connecticut/Mystic Aquarium, and US Fish and Wildlife Service. Technical support is provided by the Biodiversity Research Institute and the Synthesis of Environmental Effects Research (SEER) team at Pacific Northwest National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab.
Photo credits: Dogfish shark © Boris Pamikov - shutterstock; Wind turbines © Mark König; Birds © Florian Hahn; Humpback whale © Phoebe Dill