Cape Cod Times: Vineyard Wind seeks proposals for whale-detection technology
NEW BEDFORD — Offshore wind developer Vineyard Wind announced Tuesday it is seeking proposals from universities, technology companies and others to implement acoustic monitoring along the company’s transit routes off Southeastern Massachusetts to help protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.
The organizations submitting the proposals would be asked to provide and operate the equipment, which would detect the presence of right whales and immediately transmit the information to Vineyard Wind.
The acoustic monitoring is part of the company’s Jan. 22 agreement with three conservation groups to adopt seasonal restrictions on pile driving when right whales are likely to be in the area, based on on-board observers, acoustic monitoring and boat and airplane surveys.
The company agreed to seasonal restrictions on geophysical surveys during and after construction, and slower boat speeds, all tied to the presence of right whales in the area. The company also committed to report observations and acoustic detection of right whales to federal officials and to use technology that minimizes noise.
In the agreement, Vineyard Wind also committed $3 million to develop and use technologies to protect the whales and other marine mammals that could be adopted for future offshore wind projects.
The company is on track to start construction this year on an 84-turbine wind farm about 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, according to company officials.
The right whales, estimated with a total population of 411, migrate annually along the East Coast from Florida to Canada and are considered at risk of extinction within several decades due to injuries and deaths from ships strikes and becoming wrapped in fishing rope, according to researchers and federal regulators responsible for the whales’ protection.
— Mary Ann Bragg