The Office of Naval Research has been conducting tests of wave energy conversion buoys offshore Marine Corps Base Hawaii since 2003. Currently, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) is interested in deploying new buoy designs in the same (approved) project area, but at greater depths and further offshore.
NAVFAV Engineering Service Center's (ESC) Scientific Diving Service group conducted marine ecological monitoring of the wave energy facility from October 2003 through October 2004. No adverse impacts to any marine natural resources were detected during the first year of monitoring. Nevertheless, periodic monitoring was continued between 2005 and 2007 and an updated survey was performed in May 2011. All the surveys were focused upon the resources over which the regulatory agencies had expressed concern. There resources were: threatened and endangered species, corals and coral reefs, fishery target species, and Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) and alien species.
In addition to the Navy's marine ecological surveys, multi-agency marine ecological surveys were performed at or near the project site in 2002, and 2004. This current report analyzed data from the 2005 to 2007 time period and the May 2011 surveys and then compared those findings with the initial first year monitoring effort and with the multi-agency surveys.
The key conclusions are as follows:
- The findings of the Navy surveys are fully compatible with the findings of the multi-agency surveys.
- There have been no detectable adverse impacts to any threatened or endangered species.
- There have been no detectable adverse impacts to corals or coral reefs. In fact, the power cable supported greater densities of coral in May 2011 than the adjacent seafloor areas.
- There have been no detectable adverse impacts to fishery target species or to EFH. The anchor base and associated equipment have increased habitat complexity and vertical relief, resulting in an increase in fin fish diversity and biomass.
- No alien species have been detected on or adjacent to any of the equipment associated with the wave energy project. The equipment has not been an attractant to any alien species.
- The anchor base, power cable and associated equipment should be left in place and should not be removed. This equipment is benefiting marine natural resources and serving as a modest artificial reef. Removal of the equipment would result in adverse impacts.