BOEM announces effort to protect right whales

BOEM has partnered with federal and state entities to protect the North Atlantic right whale. — Courtesy NOAA Fisheries

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced in a press release it is partnering with multiple federal and state entities to research and strengthen the protection of the endangered North Atlantic right whales. The groups mentioned in the press release include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Fisheries, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

According to the release, BOEM is working with NOAA to develop strategies to “protect and promote the recovery of right whales” while allowing responsible development of offshore wind farms. The two organizations, with other partners, are also working on a passive acoustic monitoring network to identify and monitor the movements and distribution of marine mammals. The data and the network will also be used to reduce the impact of offshore construction on marine animals, as the Times reported recently. Island lobstermen were upset about an incidental harassment authorization NOAA awarded to Vineyard Wind for their offshore wind farm construction. The lobstermen are concerned about how the marine wildlife, particularly right whales, would be impacted. A NOAA representative told the Times different monitoring methods, including acoustic monitoring, would be used to keep harm away from marine mammals. 

BOEM is working with NOAA Fisheries on a federal survey mitigation implementation strategy that will present the steps toward limiting the adverse impact from offshore wind farm development.

Meanwhile, BOEM is working with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center for aerial surveys of right whales around and within designated wind energy areas in Massachusetts and Rhode Island waters. 

BOEM and its partners will also be funding an additional year of “targeted aerial surveys to augment the existing survey series.” In 2022, researchers will be conducting separate and more focused surveys while doing aerial surveys. This will help BOEM to better understand the whales’ behaviors.