The New York Offshore Planning Area covers 16,740 square miles. (Courtesy: New York Department of State)
A newly released NOAA study will help New York state officials identify wind energy development sites in the Atlantic while protecting critical offshore bird and fish habitats.
The study, A Biogeographic Assessment of Seabirds, Deep Sea Corals, and Ocean Habitats of the New York Bight, will help the state move forward with coastal water management decisions that are ultimately expected to spur the development of regional wind energy industry jobs.
The report will be helpful to the offshore renewable energy development interests in their siting decisions.
The new report compiles existing ecological information and interprets it for use in offshore renewable energy planning. This fresh look at known ecological data will help coastal managers better understand the interactions between renewable energy development and natural resources, and reduce uncertainties for investors in renewable energy projects.
Key findings include understanding the biodiversity, habitats, resources, and ecological processes of seabirds, deep-sea corals, and sponges as well as seafloor sediments and bathymetry, and identification of data gaps in the study area. The data helped NOAA and New York create maps that can be used by industry, federal and state mangers, and other stakeholders to make informed decisions moving forward. The report is the result of a two-year collaboration between New York Department of State's Ocean and Great Lakes Program and NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.
The project was made possible by many academic partners and federal and state agencies providing data and reviews of the study approach and results. NOAA and New York Department of State staff worked on the project, and partners included the University of Alaska, Biology and Wildlife Department; the University of Texas, Institute for Geophysics; NOAA and University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping and Joint Hydrographic Center, The Nature Conservancy, Mid-Atlantic Marine Program; and NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service. More information on this project is available on the NOAA Ocean Science Blog.