The OES-Environmental 2020 State of the Science Report: Environmental Effects of Marine Renewable Energy Development Around the World builds on and serves as an update and a complement to the 2013 Final Report for Phase 1 of OES-Environmental and the 2016 State of the Science Report. Its content reflects the most current and pertinent published information about interactions of marine renewable energy (MRE) devices and associated infrastructure with the animals and habitats that make up the marine environment. It has been developed and reviewed by over 60 international experts and scientists from around the world as part of an ongoing effort supported by the OES collaboration that operates within the International Technology Cooperation Framework of the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The 2020 State of the Science Report consists of 14 chapters which can be downloaded as a whole or individually. Download Chapter 10: Environmental Monitoring Technologies and Techniques for Detecting Interactions of Marine Animals with Turbines here. Download Chapter 10 Supplementary Material here.
The interaction of marine animals, particularly marine mammals, fish, and diving seabirds, with tidal and river turbines remains the least understood aspect of potential MRE effects, and has been hampered by the inability to observe these interactions. The ability to observe these potential interactions includes the need to design monitoring equipment that can survive in harsh marine environments, and the ability to manage power to operate instruments and data acquisition systems.
The most common instruments employed to observe interactions of marine animals with MRE devices are passive and active acoustic instruments and optical cameras. Passive acoustic monitoring instruments use hydrophones to characterize the underwater soundscape in the vicinity of an MRE device, as well as to detect vocalizing marine mammals. Active acoustic systems generate sound and record the return signal to visualize objects. Active acoustics are used to develop high-resolution imagery of underwater environments for monitoring purposes and are also used to quantify fish abundance and distribution. Optical cameras are used to monitor the distribution of marine animals in the vicinity of an MRE device and to determine species, individual animal size, and abundance. Groups of sensors can be integrated into monitoring platforms, which may be deployed autonomously, relying on battery power, or cabled to the shore for power and data transfer. Onboard automated data processing may be used to pre-process the data and decrease the volume of data to be analyzed and to provide near real-time results.
Currently, no commercially available “fit for purpose” instrumentation packages have been developed to monitor for interactions between marine animals and MRE devices, but several research platforms are in use and undergoing development worldwide. Simple robust environmental monitoring packages are needed to monitor around active MRE projects, because many consenting decisions are contingent upon the data collected from monitoring activities.
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