Synthesis of Regional Research Recommendations
An expert workgroup under the purview of the Environmental Technical Working Group (E-TWG) developed guidance for regional research and monitoring of offshore wind energy and wildlife in the eastern United States to inform study plans and the allocation of funding for regional research and monitoring. The workgroup developed two products, which were released in 2023:
Responsible Practices for Regional Wildlife Monitoring and Research in Relation to Offshore Wind Development
This written guidance focuses on recommendations for regional research and includes definitions of common terminology to support regional communications, suggested criteria for prioritization of regional research topics, and general recommendations on study design and data transparency for regional-scale research efforts.
U.S. Atlantic Offshore Wind Environmental Research Recommendations Database
This database compiles and synthesizes existing data gaps and research needs identified from existing sources (e.g., State of the Science Workgroups, federal and state agency efforts, previous E-TWG Specialist Committees) so that researchers and funders can easily access, sort, and prioritize topics. The database specifies focal taxa, spatial scale, and other information relating to each priority research topic.
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.
Regional Synthesis Workgroup Membership
The regional synthesis workgroup included 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. Workgroup members are listed in an appendix of the recommendations document.
Technical support for the workgroup was 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.
Public Feedback Process
During development of the above products, the workgroup initiated a series of opportunities for the wider stakeholder community to provide input. These included:
May-June 2023: Feedback on the draft "Responsible Practices for Regional Wildlife Monitoring and Research in Relation to Offshore Wind Energy Development” document
A public webinar was held on May 24, 2023 (recording and slides below) to provide an overview of the recommendations followed by an oppotunity for public input, open until June 14, 2023.
Sept-Oct. 2022: Feedback on the Wildlife Research Recommendations 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 followed by an opportunity for public input, open until Oct 12, 2022.
July 2022: Feedback on Prioritizing Regional Research
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 was incorporated into the recommendations for regional-scale research and monitoring developed by the regional synthesis workgroup.
Photo credits: Dogfish shark © Boris Pamikov - shutterstock; Wind turbines © Mark König; Birds © Florian Hahn;