Assessing the risks to marine mammal populations from renewable energy devices

an interim approach

David Lusseau, Fredrik Christiansen, John Harwood, Sonia Mendes, Paul M Thompson, Kate Smith, Gordon Hastie

Research output: Book/ReportOther Report

Abstract

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee, the Countryside Council for Wales and NERC Knowledge Exchange Programme commissioned a workshop to develop discussions on the risks from renewable energy devices to marine mammal populations (see Appendix I for the agenda and Appendix II for the list of participants). The Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies (SNCBs) have identified a need for a framework to enable the assessment of risk of impacts on marine mammal populations arising from disturbance and mortality caused by the installation and operation of marine renewables (offshore wind, wave and tidal). Up to the present date, consenting decisions involving considerations of impact to marine mammals have been made based on the premise that small scale
individual wind farms or demonstration wave and tidal projects will not carry a risk to the Favourable Conservation Status (FCS) of populations nor to the integrity of Natura 2000 sites. In some cases, the risks to marine mammal populations posed by tidal stream projects have been reduced to acceptable
limits by defining collision thresholds.

The SNCBs have advised the regulators that the evidence in this field is very limited and that it is becoming increasingly difficult to advise on new developments without a transparent, logical, repeatable and biologically relevant framework for assessing likely impacts and (if needed) managing the risk of impacts to marine mammal populations. Current advice to regulators and developers is based on limited evidence within a context of potential negative impacts on populations of marine mammals, particularly those that could arise from the cumulative effects of several large scale developments or multiple novel technologies combined with other ongoing pressures. The rapid expansion in the number and scale of offshore renewable developments combined with the
precautionary principle required to assess likely impacts and the lack of a thorough understanding of the actual effects is resulting in consenting challenges that reinforce the need for an assessment framework. These challenges are likely to be most significant for developments within the range of
small, semi-resident populations and for multiple developments with the potential to impact cumulatively on marine mammal populations. As a consequence SNCB advice to industry and regulators is likely to be provided on a very precautionary basis.

To progress this issue, a workshop was hosted to consider and assess the challenges that stakeholders are currently facing when having to determine and manage the risks of renewable energy devices to marine mammal populations. The aim of this workshop was to explore the development of a UK based framework, appropriate for assessing mortality and disturbance impacts
on marine mammal populations, arising from the installation and operation of offshore renewables. The workshop gathered academics, regulators, nature conservation advisory bodies and industry to agree on an approach that is appropriate to the issues and populations of concern. In particular, the
aim of the workshop was to reach agreement on the questions that need answering and their regulatory context, to identify and discuss the available data and assumptions, to discuss and identify the most appropriate modelling approaches and to explore the scenarios and levels of impact to be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationPeterborough
PublisherJoint Nature Conservation Committee
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Fingerprint

marine mammal
nature conservation
energy
disturbance
mortality
resident population
wind farm
industry
wind wave
conservation status
stakeholder
collision

Keywords

  • risks
  • marine mammal populations
  • renewable energy devices

Cite this

Lusseau, D., Christiansen, F., Harwood, J., Mendes, S., Thompson, P. M., Smith, K., & Hastie, G. (2012). Assessing the risks to marine mammal populations from renewable energy devices: an interim approach. Peterborough: Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

Assessing the risks to marine mammal populations from renewable energy devices : an interim approach. / Lusseau, David; Christiansen, Fredrik; Harwood, John; Mendes, Sonia; Thompson, Paul M; Smith, Kate; Hastie, Gordon.

Peterborough : Joint Nature Conservation Committee, 2012. 29 p.

Research output: Book/ReportOther Report

Lusseau, D, Christiansen, F, Harwood, J, Mendes, S, Thompson, PM, Smith, K & Hastie, G 2012, Assessing the risks to marine mammal populations from renewable energy devices: an interim approach. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.
Lusseau D, Christiansen F, Harwood J, Mendes S, Thompson PM, Smith K et al. Assessing the risks to marine mammal populations from renewable energy devices: an interim approach. Peterborough: Joint Nature Conservation Committee, 2012. 29 p.
Lusseau, David ; Christiansen, Fredrik ; Harwood, John ; Mendes, Sonia ; Thompson, Paul M ; Smith, Kate ; Hastie, Gordon. / Assessing the risks to marine mammal populations from renewable energy devices : an interim approach. Peterborough : Joint Nature Conservation Committee, 2012. 29 p.
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