Offshore wind developers and environmental organizations have agreed to a series of voluntary measures to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, while helping to expedite responsible offshore wind development, in the Mid-Atlantic.
Building upon proposed federally mandated protections, the Conservation Law Foundation, the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, working together with Deepwater Wind, Energy Management, Inc. (owner of Cape Wind in Massachusetts) and NRG Bluewater Wind, have drafted a set of protective measures that these developers will voluntarily implement over the next four years in areas designated by the administration as Mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Areas, which stretch from New Jersey to Virginia.
The agreement reduces the threat to right whales by limiting weather tower construction and certain other activities during the peak migration season, when whales travel through the mid-Atlantic region between southern calving and northern feeding grounds.
There is broad scientific consensus that the North Atlantic right whale is one of the most critically endangered species on the planet, with a world population estimated between 350 and 400 individual animals. Given its endangered status, additional precautionary measures are needed to enhance the current protections for this species.
According to the consortium, the measures outlined in the agreement provide further protections for the North Atlantic right whale, primarily by reducing or avoiding sound impacts from exploratory activities that developers use to determine where to build wind farms, such as the construction of temporary towers that measure weather conditions and underwater surveys that assess the geology just beneath the ocean floor. This is important because acoustic disturbances under the water can disrupt whale communication, safety of migration and feeding.
The full details of the agreement can be found here.