The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) Office of Renewable Energy Programs held the “Best Management Practices Workshop for Atlantic Offshore Wind Facilities and Marine Protected Species” March 7-9, 2017. The public workshop was hosted at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) headquarters, in Silver Spring, MD and facilitated by Kearns & West. The workshop informed best management practices (BMPs) for avoiding, reducing, and monitoring impacts to marine protected species from the development of offshore wind on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Expert panelists and presenters from the Federal government, offshore wind industry, consultants, academics, and non-profit organizations from the U.S. and Europe presented the current state of the science, tools used to assess impacts, identified outstanding issues, and presented lessons learned on how to best minimize and mitigate impacts. The workshop focused on identifying issues and presenting science to inform the development of BMPs, specifically mitigation measures, standardized monitoring procedures, and the maintenance and sharing of information.
The workshop objectives were to:
1) Increase understanding of the science and regulations for protecting marine species from the effects of offshore wind development on the Atlantic OCS;
2) Understand the perspectives of stakeholder groups on protected species mitigation and monitoring; and
3) Identify and discuss the best approaches for BMPs to avoid, minimize, and monitor the effects of offshore wind activities on marine protected species.
BOEM did not seek consensus, but may use the outcomes of the workshop to inform Environmental Assessments (EAs) and Environmental Impact Statement (EISs) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), future guidance to Lessees, areas of future research, and Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultations. The outcomes of the workshop may also be useful to the offshore wind industry when preparing Construction and Operations Plans (COPs) that must identify the use BMPs (585.621(f)) and measures for avoiding, minimizing, reducing, eliminating, or monitoring environmental impacts (30 CFR 585.216(b)(15)). These outcomes may also assist in preparing incidental take applications that may be required under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This report summarizes the workshop presentations and outcomes.