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Irish Whale & Dolphin Group Publishes Policy Document on Offshore Wind

12th December 2020
WhaleTales”  takes place today WhaleTales” takes place today

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has recommended that a single body should handle all mitigation measures to reduce impact of offshore wind farms on marine mammals.

A policy document published by the NGO includes recommendations to ensure offshore wind farms have “only minimal and not significant impacts” on whales, dolphins and porpoises and their habitats. 

“The marine renewable energy industry in Ireland is set for explosive growth in the coming years with a production target of 5GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 and an ambition of 30GW by 2050,” the IWDG says. 

The policy document is due to be published today at the IWDG annual “WhaleTales” meeting which takes place online.

The NGO said it supports the decarbonisation of the Irish economy.

“We have looked at recent research and international best practice to inform this policy document, and present a series of recommendations to try and help guide offshore windfarm development over the coming years,” senior author Patrick Lyne said. 

“The aim is to mitigate or reduce our impact and to measure our impact such that future developments can be better planned, and existing ones perhaps improved,” he said. 

In the document, the IWDG have highlighted the need to protect areas identified as being important for whales and dolphins and has called for changes to mitigation practices.

It says passive acoustic monitoring is the only effective way to detect presence of the marine mammals and should form part of a 24-hour mitigation strategy.

It also says the use of acoustic deterrent technology should be reviewed according to species present and exact parameters of the device used, in order that it acts as an effective deterrent prior to operations. 

“ The amount of contact the IWDG have had with offshore windfarm companies in recent months is huge and we felt it was important to publish our thoughts about the development of this industry and its potential impacts on whales and dolphins,” IWDG chief executive officer Dr Simon Berrow states. 

“We are worried the state agencies involved in assessing planning applications and awarding licenses could be overwhelmed in the near future leading to bad decisions and delays”.

It recommends that “all mitigation procedures and the assessment of requirements should be coordinated by a single body to avoid differences in implementation by different regulators and that the current guidelines be now updated in line with best practice internationally”.

As Afloat reported earlier, more information is on the IWDG website, and the link to “WhaleTales” which takes place today is here

Published in Marine Wildlife
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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