As interest in the interactions of offshore renewables and fishing intensifies, INSPIRE scientists have joined an international group of scientists to report on “Understanding the Effects of Offshore Wind Energy Development on Fisheries,” a Special Issue of Oceanography. The Special Issue provides an overview of what has been learned about offshore wind farm impacts on fisheries based on research, monitoring, and engagement with the fishing industry conducted for European wind farms and the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island.
INSPIRE has recently concluded seven years of monitoring fish and lobsters at the Block Island Wind Farm and expects to release several publications in 2021 examining the results. In advance of those detailed papers, our team reported in this Special Issue on “Effects of the Block Island Wind Farm on Coastal Resources: Lessons Learned.” The full paper can be downloaded here.
Dr. Carey, INSPIRE CEO, collaborated with an international group of scientists to prepare a paper on how Offshore Wind Farm Artificial Reefs Affect Ecosystem Structure and Functioning: A Synthesis. The submerged parts of offshore wind structures act as artificial reefs, providing new habitats and likely affecting fisheries resources. While acknowledging that the footprints of these structures may result in loss of habitat, usually soft sediment, the authors’ focus was on how the artificial reefs established by the wind farms affect ecosystem structure and functioning.
Kathy Vigness-Raposa has joined INSPIRE Environmental (Newport, Rhode Island), bringing experience in monitoring the impacts of offshore energy installations on marine mammals to the leading marine environmental company. She hails from Marine Acoustics, Inc., and will take on a leadership role as INSPIRE continues its current expansion into fisheries and acoustics.
“We’re really expanding our technical expertise by hiring a PhD-level senior scientist who is bringing more capability to our company, allowing us to serve our clients better,” says INSPIRE CEO Drew Carey.
INSPIRE Environmental is known for using SPI (Sediment Profile Imaging) cameras to assess and monitor the health of the seafloor. When combined with the INSPIRE team’s expertise in modeling seafloor habitats, data gleaned from SPI surveys help developers plan projects that minimally disturb the seafloor, leaving sensitive habitats intact.
Vigness-Raposa and INSPIRE Environmental first collaborated during the planning stages of the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF), working with local fishermen to map out potential impacts while coordinating with state and local regulators. They also monitored how seabed disturbance affected local fisheries and marine habitats once BIWF was operational.
“You know they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and these amazing SPI pictures really show what’s happening out there. We can look at spatial features of the ocean and ask: ‘how can we decrease the human footprint as much as possible on marine animals and seafloor habitats?’”
Dr. Kathy Vigness-Raposa
In a growing offshore energy sector, and by integrating expertise in acoustic impacts with their existing tried and tested workflows, INSPIRE is perfectly positioned to provide a holistic view of seafloor health and fisheries sustainability.
INSPIRE has worked national and international industry and government clients, including Deepwater Wind/Ørsted, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and British Petroleum (BP; INSPIRE mobilized following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to monitor seafloor recovery).
“As a company we are committed to quality, innovation, and to being a collaborative and responsive partner to our clients,” says COO Jeanine Boyle. “We’re excited to bring in someone with Kathy’s experience and caliber, someone who can promote both the science and our high level of client support.”
INSPIRE is in the news again this week with another great piece by Ambar Espinoza and Elizabeth Harrison of Rhode Island Public Radio, telling the story of early environmental results from the construction of Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm. Features Professors Jim Miller and Bob Kenney of URI Graduate School of Oceanography and INSPIRE’s very own Jeanine Boyle. This marks the second time this week that our company has been featured in reports by Rhode Island Public Radio.
Deepwater Wind contracted Rhode Island-based INSPIRE Environmental to conduct a range of environmental assessments that helped secure permits to build the Block Island Wind Farm and its underwater cable. Much of this work continues as the Block Island Wind Farm moves into its next phase of electricity production.
Rhode Island Public Radio reporter Ambar Espinoza recently joined INSPIRE scientists on one of our monthly fish-trawl surveys in the vicinity of Block Island Wind Farm. Read all about the great work that INSPIRE is performing for the nation’s first offshore wind turbine array.
The nation’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Block Island will start producing electricity any day now. It’s a pilot project that will change the way the people on this small island power their homes and businesses. They’ve relied on importing diesel fuel up to this point.Today we bring you a story about another group that has a stake in this project: fishermen. A small crew of fishermen has been working with scientists to gather data and learn how fishing will or won’t change around the wind turbines.