Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative
Multi-sectoral, regional collaboration to advance environmentally responsible offshore wind power development activities in U.S. Atlantic waters.
The mission of the Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative (RWSC) is to “collaboratively and effectively conduct and coordinate relevant, credible, and efficient regional monitoring and research of wildlife and marine ecosystems that supports the advancement of environmentally responsible and cost-efficient offshore wind power development activities in U.S. Atlantic waters”. The RWSC Steering Committee made up representatives from four sectors (federal agencies, state agencies, offshore wind developers and environmental non-governmental organizations). These Committee members work with their sector caucuses to leverage their collective expertise to guide the future work of the RWSC. Additionally, relevant subject experts provide input on topics such as research priorities, monitoring methods, and the interpretation and management of data. As of July 2021, the RWSC is administered and directed by the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO), and the Coastal States Stewardship Foundation (CSSF), with Dr. Emily Shumchenia serving as RWSC Director.
In 2021 the Interim Steering Committee developed:
• The RWSC Governance Structure which describes the mission, scope, structure and processes of the RWSC.
• An Annual Work Plan for the RWSC that outlines six activities that groups within the RWSC (e.g., Steering Committee, Sector Caucuses, Subcommittees) will undertake, as well as additional specific milestones for 2022.
• Two expert subcommittees focusing on 1) marine mammals, and 2) birds and bats.
History of the RWSC
Starting at the inaugural State of the Science Workshop in 2018, E-TWG members and other stakeholders expressed the importance of developing a regional science entity to support research and monitoring on wildlife and offshore wind energy. The E-TWG initiated a Specialist Committee to further this topic in early 2019, with coordination support from Cadmus Group and the Consensus Building Institute.
Building from these early efforts, a strong stakeholder engagement process was initiated to develop the current vision for a RWSC for Atlantic Offshore Wind. The process was led by a "Coordinating Group", or representative group of stakeholders along the Atlantic Coast including the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Shell, Equinor, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). The result of the 18-month engagement effort was a vision document produced in 2020 which outlined the mission and objectives of the RWSC, as well as a proposed structure. NYSERDA and MassCEC, in collaboration with the RWSC Interim Steering Committee, issued an Offshore Wind Request for Qualifications (RFQL) to hire one or more organizations to direct and manage the RWSC.
In July 2021, NYSERDA and MassCEC selected NROC, MARCO, and CSSF to administer and direct the RWSC.
For more information
For more information about the RWSC, see the organization's website
Photo credits: Short-beaked common dolphins © Anthony Pierce