A high-resolution, wind turbine-resolving coupled physical and scallop-IBM model is being developed under the platform of the Northeast Coastal Ocean Forecast System (NECOFS). This model is being applied to assess the potential impact of the offshore wind resource facilities on the regional fishery industry, especially on the connectivity between sea scallop populations of the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank and Southern New England/Middle Atlantic Bight. This project is aimed at a) providing a scientific tool for the New England Fishery Management Council to assess potential impact of offshore wind facilities on the scallop larval transport/dispersion and the connectivity between the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank and Middle Atlantic Bight; b) assessing the short-term (spawning period and early life stage each year) and long-term (inter-annual) impacts of the offshore wind turbines on regional sea scallop larvae transport, dispersion and connectivity through the direct comparisons between the cases with and without wind turbine installations; c) examining the sensitivity of the impact of offshore wind turbine development to climate-induced variability of scallop populations over the upstream sources; and d) evaluating an ongoing and proposed installation design of the offshore wind farm over the New England shelf to see if an optimal design could be proposed.
The BOEM approved the Vineyard Wind’s site assessment plan (SAP) for the lease area of OCSA-0501. Selecting this site, we successfully developed a high-resolution (up to ~1.0 m), windturbine-resolving subdomain FVCOM ocean model on the platform of NECOFS and coupled it with the regional Scallop-IBM model. A 39-year (1978-2016) Scallop-IBM model experiments were conducted to identify years which show the connectivity of sea scallop population between Georges Bank/Great South Channel and New England shelf as well as Mid-Atlantic Bight. The results indicate that the scallop larval settlement shows a significant interannual variability. We selected 2010 as a year for an initial assessment of the potential impact of the offshore wind developed in the Vineyard Wind's lease area of OCS-A-0501 on larval transport and found that during that year a large amount of larvae settled down near the lease area and also advected southward through Nantucket Shoal. Although Covid-19 Pandemic has significantly influenced our project, a high-resolution flow field with and without inclusion of wind turbines are being simulated. A scallop larval transport experiment will be carried out this summer.