Sectoral Marine Planning and related strategic assessment processes have identified a need to evaluate the potential interactions between marine renewable energy developments and marine wildlife as a matter of priority. Despite significant progress in the industry over recent years, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about the risk that tidal turbines in particular pose to marine mammals.
There is, therefore, a clear need to improve the understanding of how animals perceive and respond to devices. The Demonstration Strategy is a key component of the Scottish Government’s ‘Survey, Deploy and Monitor’ (SDM) policy approach to reducing the environmental uncertainty currently inherent in the licensing of renewable energy developments in Scottish waters. It will allow the monitoring of early renewable projects to investigate such interactions. It is crucial that appropriate and achievable techniques are in place for these early projects to collect the data required to characterise the true nature of any impacts – and that data are collected and analysed in such a way as to inform the development of tools that help assess future risk (e.g. collision risk models).
Suitable instrumentation and methodologies are generally lacking and those that are available for the detection and tracking of marine mammals require a degree of development before it is possible to be confident that they can be successfully deployed in conjunction with tidal energy projects. In order to study the fine scale movements of animals close to a tidal energy device and potentially monitor collisions, monitoring systems are required with the ability to track animals with a high spatial and temporal resolution and over a range of several tens of metres from the turbine for a period of several months.
This report details the progress of Phase 1 of the Scottish Government Demonstration Strategy (SGDS) project: Developing and testing methodologies for measuring fine scale marine mammal movements around tidal energy devices. The approach considered here comprises three sensor systems: Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM), Active Acoustic Monitoring (AAM) and Video Surveillance. Whilst each of these systems have been used to study marine animal movements, their combined application in a high tidal energy environment requires development and testing.