In this issue, we’ll update you on SouthCoast Wind’s site characterization surveys and site assessment plan, as well as introduce Joel Southall, our new Fisheries Liaison Officer.
Site Characterization Surveys Under Way
Launched on April 25, geophysical site surveys have been gathering data about the seafloor and subsea for evaluation in preparation of SouthCoast Wind’s Construction and Operations Plan (COP). The COP, a requirement for federal permitting, continues to be developed in coordination with regulatory agencies, mariners, Native American tribes, and port and fishing communities. SouthCoast Wind anticipates the start of a geotechnical survey in July. The geophysical and geotechnical (G&G) surveys will run through the fall and take place within SouthCoast Wind’s lease area (OCS-A 0521) and potential export cable routes.
Fugro, a global leader in geo-data for energy and infrastructure industries, is conducting the geophysical survey utilizing the vessels R/V Kommandor Iona and R/V Go Liberty.
The winds and seas have been mostly calm with a few days of fog requiring the vessels to stay in port. Otherwise, activity on the water has been increasing with a higher presence of commercial and recreational fishing vessels and recreational boats on the water as COVID-19 restrictions lift in the area. Most of the marine mammal sightings in the lease area have been dolphins, with the occasional minke or fin whale surfacing. To date, there have been no North Atlantic Right Whale detections. Protected Species Observers (PSOs) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) operators are on board to identify and appropriately manage any issues involving protected marine wildlife.
Safety is SouthCoast Wind’s top priority. All survey activities are performed in accordance with federal and state regulations and health and safety policies and procedures. COVID-19 response plans have been incorporated into vessel operators’ emergency response plans.
Site Assessment Plan Approved
SouthCoast Wind’s Site Assessment Plan (SAP) for wind resource evaluation was approved by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on May 26. The plan details the methods and procedures for the installation of a floating buoy that will collect and analyze meteorological and oceanographic data and information on the conditions of the marine environment within the project’s lease area. The SAP approval marks another important milestone in the project’s progress and can be found here.
SouthCoast Wind has partnered with the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) to share real-time weather and ocean data collected by the buoy for mariners and the scientific community to use. NERACOOS’ mission is to produce, integrate, and communicate high quality information that helps ensure safety, economic and environmental resilience, and sustainable use of the coastal ocean. SouthCoast Wind’s floating buoy data will help to support these efforts and help to inform other research efforts in the Atlantic region. Visit NERACOOS to view the data!
Fisheries Liaison Onboard
SouthCoast Wind is pleased to welcome Joel Southall as the project’s Fisheries Liaison Officer. In this role, Joel will serve as the liaison between the fishing community and SouthCoast Wind. He’ll be listening to mariners and sharing project updates and activity information to strengthen communication and collaboration.
Prior to this role, Joel was the Director of Sustainability and Senior Scientist for Southall Environmental Associates, working on a wide range of sustainability issues as well as mitigating the environmental impacts of renewable energy projects. Joel has worked extensively with both the energy and fisheries industries, having overseen the Fisheries and Aquaculture Solutions Program for the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium. In that role, Joel interacted with the fishing industry to develop practical, impactful solutions that addressed the needs of all stakeholders in the fishing industry and the broader seafood supply chain.
As social distancing guidelines allow for more in-person interactions, Joel will be a regular presence in the field, including monthly Port Hours in New Bedford, Massachusetts and Narragansett, Rhode Island.
SouthCoast Wind, a 50/50 joint venture between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDPR Offshore North America LLC, is developing an offshore wind lease area with the potential to supply up to 2,000 megawatts of low-cost clean energy.