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The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has announced the award of funding for studies, and will release shortly a request for proposals, to provide enhanced scientific information on the impacts of offshore wind energy development off New Jersey’s coastline as well as the state’s entry into a regional offshore-wind science collaborative.
These actions, identified as priorities by a diverse group of stakeholders, are the first funded through the Offshore Wind Research & Monitoring Initiative (RMI). This collaborative effort of the DEP and BPU is working to coordinate and expand research into impacts of offshore wind development on wildlife and fisheries. The projects are funded by two offshore wind farm developers through a fund administered by the state. Specifically, RMI has provided funding for:
  • New Jersey’s entrance into the Regional Wildlife Science Entity, formed last year to coordinate regional monitoring and research of wildlife and marine ecosystems that supports the advancement of environmentally responsible and cost-efficient offshore wind power development and natural resource stewardship. Current members are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York. ($60,000).
  • A collaborative effort led by Rutgers University in partnership with NOAA and Northeast Fisheries and Surfside Seafood Products, LLC to develop a specialized surf clam dredge to conduct research in areas where harvesting of this commercially important species overlaps wind-turbine lease areas. Research will also examine the impacts of ocean acidification caused by increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on surf clams to provide critical baseline information. ($865,440).
  • Data-gathering on ecological and physical oceanographic conditions such as seafloor topography, sunlight availability, temperature and stratification through extensive monitoring using an underwater glider through Rutgers University. The glider will work in a vast area of the Continental Shelf stretching from Sandy Hook to Cape May. ($2.5 million).
The RMI will also release shortly a request for proposals for a passive acoustic monitoring project to better understand the movements and behaviors of baleen whale species, including the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, in the waters along New Jersey’s coastline. This project will be part of larger effort which includes collaboration with nearby state, regional, and federal entities that seeks to protect marine mammals as offshore wind farms are developed along the eastern seaboard.
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