Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Demonstrate the Power of a Government-wide Approach to Sustainable Fisheries and Offshore Wind

In Support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to addressing the nation’s climate crisis and deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries announced their commitment to implement NOAA Fisheries’ Federal Survey Mitigation Program (Program).

The agencies will be working with regional partners and stakeholders to complete an implementation strategy within 12 months that describes commitments from offshore wind developers and the federal government and develops a timeline for initial actions. NOAA Fisheries’ scientific surveys are essential for setting quotas for commercial and recreational fishermen, as well as monitoring and assessment for recovery and conservation programs for protected species and essential fish habitat. BOEM and NOAA share a goal of a successful offshore wind industry co-existing with thriving fisheries, wildlife, and marine ecosystems.

“A government-wide approach to offshore wind development is necessary to further ensure that decisions are driven by science, and evidence-based recommendations.” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “This partnership with NOAA strengthens our offshore energy programs and creates greater certainty for the industry, other governments and our stakeholders.”

“NOAA Fisheries is committed to fulfilling our statutory mandates to maintain sustainable fisheries, to conserve and recover wildlife, and to protect habitats, all using an ecosystem-based approach. We welcome opportunities for partnerships to effectively mitigate the impacts of offshore wind energy development on our scientific surveys” said Acting Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Paul Doremus. 

Meeting the administration’s goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind in the United States by 2030 would create nearly 80,000 jobs. To date, BOEM has leased approximately 1.7 million acres in the northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. Outer Continental Shelf for offshore wind development, has 17 active leases in the Atlantic from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras, with additional leasing planned for the U.S. Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Pacific coasts. In the U.S., commercial and recreational fisheries contribute to supporting 1.74 million jobs, $244 billion in sales, and $111 billion in value-added economic output. 

The Program will address impacts from offshore wind development on NOAA Fisheries’ surveys arising from: 1) exclusion of NOAA Fisheries’ sampling platforms from the wind development area due to operational and safety limitations; 2) impacts on the random-stratified statistical design that is the basis for scientific assessments, advice, and analyses; and 3) the alteration of benthic and pelagic habitats, and airspace in and around the wind energy development. The Program will evaluate existing survey designs, identify and develop new survey approaches, calibrate these new approaches to existing surveys, develop interim survey indices, and conduct monitoring efforts to fill regional scientific survey data needs over the life of offshore wind operations. Information and outcomes from these efforts will be shared with the public, industry, academia, state and federal partners to ensure an open and transparent process. The goal of the Program is to ensure the continuity of the important marine scientific investments in long-term data collection and to maintain scientific support for sustainable fisheries. The Program will build on ongoing activities including the MOU between NOAA Fisheries, BOEM and RODA, the Synthesis of the Science Workshop and Interagency Agreements between BOEM and NOAA Fisheries.

For more information about BOEM’s renewable energy program, please see: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy

For more information about NOAA Fisheries’ offshore wind, fisheries, protected species, and habitat activities, please see: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-england-mid-atlantic/science-data/offshore-wind-energy-development-new-england-mid-atlantic-waters