Please select your home edition
Leaderboard brokerage

New acoustic monitoring framework to safeguard marine resources during offshore wind development

by NOAA Fisheries 30 Oct 17:06 UTC
Jeremy Kiszka of Florida International University checks on one of the Marine Autonomous Recording Units (MARUs) deployed in the Caribbean in 2017 to record humpback songs and other ocean sounds. © NOAA Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have developed a new framework for monitoring underwater sounds. Published today in Frontiers in Marine Science, the guidelines are designed to help safeguard marine resources as wind energy development expands in U.S. waters.

The framework provides holistic recommendations for offshore wind stakeholders nationwide to effectively monitor and reduce the impact of wind energy projects on marine animals using passive acoustic monitoring.

Why is passive acoustic monitoring important?

Passive acoustic monitoring in aquatic environments refers to the use of underwater microphones to detect sounds from animals and the environment. These microphones can be deployed for months at a time, run non-stop, and gather data in difficult weather and light conditions. This makes them a great complement to more traditional survey methods. Scientists can also use groups of recorders to track animals as they move throughout an area.

For wind developers, passive acoustic monitoring is a valuable tool. They can use it to identify the animals in a project area and understand how a population is distributed and behaves. They can observe potential behavioral responses to construction activities and turbine operations. Monitoring systems can also be used to make real-time decisions like delaying construction or warning vessels to reduce their speed to protect nearby endangered whales and other animals.

Because of the critical information it provides, NOAA Fisheries and BOEM may require wind developers to use passive acoustic monitoring as part of project-specific permits and approvals. The data collected can be particularly useful in NOAA Fisheries' work to safeguard protected species under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act.

"Passive acoustic monitoring has become an effective and extensively used tool for evaluating the effects of human activities in marine environments," said Sofie Van Parijs, passive acoustic program lead at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and lead author of the paper. "As wind energy development expands in U.S. waters, this publication aims to address the need for recommendations and best practices to help industry develop robust and consistent passive acoustic mitigation plans and long-term baseline monitoring programs."

Recommendations for all stages of offshore wind projects

The framework outlines minimum procedures, system requirements, and other components for effectively designing and implementing passive acoustic monitoring. Recommendations cover before, during, and after construction of offshore wind projects and apply nationwide.

Guidance for East Coast projects

In addition to national recommendations, today's publication includes supplements featuring example uses of the framework. These are tailored to understanding and minimizing the impacts of offshore wind development on endangered whales and other marine mammals along the East Coast.

The first supplement highlights a proposed passive acoustic regional monitoring plan. Stakeholders can use this as a guide for collecting systematic baseline data. It can also help users determine whether there are large-scale, long-term shifts in where baleen whales are found—either from human activities like offshore wind development or a changing climate.

The second supplement outlines key considerations for wind developers who are required to create a passive acoustic monitoring plan. It will help them detect animals during construction and operation and inform decisions that reduce effects to them. It will also allow developers to alert nearby vessels to reduce their speed for risk of a vessel strike.

A third supplement provides templates for standardized data sheets for submitting acoustic detection data, supporting metadata, and GPS location data. Wind developers along the East Coast who use passive acoustic monitoring are required to submit these data sheets for each marine mammal detection.

Download the templates

Related Articles

AI speeds delivery of critical information
Training AI to identify marine mammal calls from acoustic recordings opens new possibilities The Alaska Fisheries Science Center Marine Mammal Laboratory developed Infrastructure for Noise and Soundscape Tolerant Investigation of Nonspecific Call Types, or INSTINCT. Posted on 20 Nov
Windows to the Deep 2021
NOAA Ocean Exploration is coordinating the trip on the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer NOAA Fisheries biologist Allen Collins is the co-science lead for the Windows to the Deep 2021 ocean exploration expedition, happening from October 26-November 15. Posted on 13 Nov
Antarctica penguins may prefer dining with friends
Researchers attached video cameras to penguins and saw them synchronously swimming and feeding A penguin's plumage is often compared to a tuxedo. The comparison is fitting, considering that new data suggest penguins may be holding dinner parties more often than we know. Posted on 2 Nov
L47 reflects plight of endangered killer whales
She produced 7 calves over her life, although only 3 survived L47 was a mom, a grandmother, and a caregiver. Born in 1974, she contributed again and again to the endangered population of Southern Resident killer whales. She gave birth to seven calves over her 47 years. Posted on 30 Oct
Success of the 2021 Marine Debris Cleanup Missions
‘A‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia: No task is too big when done together by all Scientists and divers from NOAA's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and local nonprofit Papahanaumokuakea Marine Debris Project (PMDP) returned to Honolulu on September 22, 2021, from a 30-day mission. Posted on 9 Oct
Growing potential for toxic algal blooms
A warming Arctic presents potential new threats to humans & marine wildlife in fast-changing region Changes in the northern Alaskan Arctic ocean environment have reached a point at which a previously rare phenomenon—widespread blooms of toxic algae—could become more commonplace. Posted on 8 Oct
More salmon for endangered killer whales
NOAA Fisheries is approving an amendment to the fishery management plan for Chinook salmon Following nearly 40,000 public comments, NOAA Fisheries is approving an amendment to the fishery management plan for Chinook salmon off the West Coast. Posted on 25 Sep
Successful demonstration of assisted gene flow
Assisted gene flow can efficiently enhance the genetic diversity of threatened marine species An international team of researchers has published a scientific paper that highlights the first successful demonstration of assisted gene flow in corals using cryopreserved sperm. Posted on 19 Sep
New book engages students as rockfish stewards
Volume, which highlights bocaccio and yelloweye rockfish as ecological building blocks, is available Threatened and endangered rockfish are swimming out of the depths of Puget Sound and into classrooms through a colorful new book. It engages students in the curious and fascinating lives of these charismatic species. Posted on 6 Sep
Pot/trap fisheries regulations for NA right whales
Modifications to the Atlantic large whale take reduction plan address entanglements in fishing gear NOAA Fisheries and our partners are dedicated to conserving and rebuilding critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. Their population is declining and has been experiencing an ongoing Unusual Mortality Event since 2017. Posted on 5 Sep
GJW Direct - Yacht 2019 - FooterStoneways Marine 2021 - FOOTERCyclops 2020 - SmartlinkNano - FOOTER