A group of concerned citizens, scientists, and conservationists have created the Save Right Whales Coalition, which seeks a moratorium on the construction of offshore wind projects until their impact on the critically-endangered North Atlantic right whale and other wildlife is fully understood.
Save Right Whales Coalition members took part in the Vineyard Wind public comment period on Nov. 18 and are launching the coalition in a press conference on Friday, Nov. 19, at 1 p.m. on Zoom.
In January2019 the National Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Conservation Law Foundation entered into an agreement with Vineyard Wind which they say will protect right whales by limiting vessel speeds, requiring whale detection measures, and limiting pile driving activity to the summer and fall, periods when right whales have historically not been present in the project area.
The coalition says pile driving creates far-reaching noise pollution that can hinder whale calls used to maintain contact, gather to feed, and find mates. The construction technique and other anthropogenic sounds also result in habitat displacement, hearing loss, and, in right whales specifically, increased stress levels, it says
The Save Right Whales Coalition believes that the mitigation measures are insufficient. It says recent research shows that right whales are increasingly present in the planned construction area year round due to changes in migration patterns.
NOAA Fisheries, the New England Aquarium, and the Center for Coastal Studies report that more studies are needed to understand the impacts of offshore wind on federally-listed endangered species, of which there are less than 350 still living. .
The coalition says serious questions remain unanswered about the impact of industrial wind projects on right whales. The group has sent an open letter to the people of Massachusetts, describing in depth why more thorough studies on the impacts on right whales and other marine life are necessary before any offshore wind projects proceed.