Annual Report 2014

Assessment of Environmental Effects
and Monitoring Efforts (Annex IV)

Project Duration
Phase II: 2013 - 2016
Phase I: 2010 - 2013
Operating Agent
Hoyt Battey (US Delegate), US Department of Energy (DOE)
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (US)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US)
Technical Consultants
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US), assisted by Aquatera Ltd (UK)
Participating countries
Canada, China, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal,
South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States of America

Further information

Annex IV seeks to be the premier international program engaged in bringing together information and practitioners on environmental effects of marine energy development. 

The second phase of Annex IV builds on the work completed during the first phase, by continuing to collect, analyze, and disseminate information, to enhance the development of the marine energy industry by providing access to knowledge and information related to research, monitoring, and evaluation of environmental effects of offshore renewable energy. Supported by the online knowledge management system Tethys, developed by PNNL, a commons is being created for Annex IV that facilitates the broadcast and archiving of webinars, expert forums, and workshops focused on important scientific issues that are critical to the siting and permitting (consenting) of marine energy devices worldwide. Annex IV also plays a role in supporting the dissemination of information via international conferences and events, focusing on new environmental research and data on interactions among marine animals, habitats, and marine energy devices. The culmination of phase 2 of Annex IV will be a State of the Science report that summarizes the state of knowledge of environmental effects of marine energy development, and seeks to place that knowledge in context of the progress of the industry worldwide.

During 2014, Phase 2 of Annex IV highlights include:

  • Participation by member nation analysts;
  • Collection and update of metadata forms;
  • Broad dissemination of information;
  • Convening and reporting on targeted workshops;
  • Holding webinars and experts’ forums;
  • Progress towards the 2016 State of the Science report; and
  • A partnership with a major international conference.

Progress towards each achievement is described in the following sections.

Phase 2 of Annex IV is characterized by the close involvement of an analyst from each of the member nations. Each analyst was nominated by his/her nation, and is committed to contributing 10 to 20 hours per quarter to Annex IV. Key tasks asked of each analyst include:

  • Reporting progress in marine energy development and environmental effects work within their respective countries, updating existing Annex IV metadata forms and providing new ones as projects or research studies are initiated;
  • Acting as an expert group for the Annex IV process on direction for webinar, expert forum, and workshop topics;
  • Providing reviews of products, such as Tethys content and functionality;
  • Engaging in identifying experts (or participating directly) in preparing a State of the Science report in 2016;
  • Advising and participating in an international conference in 2015/2016; and
  • Acting as an ambassador for Annex IV in their respective country.

Information is collected for ongoing marine energy sites and research projects in the form of metadata that describe the project or study, the methods and outcomes of environmental monitoring, and provide contact information for the owners or authors of the reports. Building on the collection of metadata from phase 1, Annex IV continued to collect information on new wave and tidal projects and for ongoing research studies. This information is subsequently stored and can be accessed from Tethys. In addition, the program sought to update existing metadata forms by working through the country analysts and directly with developers and researchers. Over the course of 2014, 16 new project site forms and 9 research study forms have been added, while 47 project site forms and 11 research study forms have been updated. The total Annex IV metadata form collection on Tethys currently includes 82 project sites and 57 research studies. Those totals include project sites for which there is no longer gear in the water but where environmental data were collected; they are maintained in the collection to increase the overall lessons that can be learned.

Tethys, the online knowledge management system which supports Annex IV material, continues to expand and to increase user interactions. The publically available collection of scientific papers, reports, and other media increased by almost 500 papers in the last year, for a total of almost 1700 entries. The collection includes information on offshore wind effects as well, but over half the papers are exclusively about marine energy development. Over the past year, Tethys has seen a 106% increase in pageviews, with an increase in total visits to the site of 24%. During 2014, researchers, regulators, developers, and stakeholders, including seven of the Annex IV analysts, provided over a hundred peer review comments on the content and functionality of Tethys; the results of the peer review help guide improvements and changes to the system. A report summarizing results of the peer review is available at:

Annex IV sponsored a one-day workshop in conjunction with the Environmental Impacts of Marine Renewables (EIMR) conference in Stornoway Scotland during spring 2014. The workshop was focused on identifying the best practices of environmental monitoring for specific key environmental interactions between marine animals and wave and tidal devices. The workshop was attended by 43 participants and 61 observers. Break out groups addressed four important interactions of marine energy devices with the environment: blade interaction; attraction; avoidance/barrier effects; and mooring line interactions. The overall lessons from the workshop include:

  1. In general, more research is needed to establish efficacy of monitoring methods and technologies;
  2. Monitoring efforts around projects need to commensurate with risk to animals, and affordable; and
  3. Integrated package of instruments to observe blade interactions are very costly and an independent research effort is needed to better develop these systems. A final workshop report has been written, reviewed, and distributed to the participants. Annex IV was also a major partner in the EIMR conference; all the EIMR presentations are archived on Tethys:

Annex IV sponsored a one-day workshop in Wolfville Nova Scotia, bringing together regulators, marine energy researchers, and industry representatives, to determine what data are needed and what data can be collected, to assist with siting and permitting (consenting) of marine energy devices. The premise behind the workshop was that regulators in all nations need to assure that the deployment and operation of wave and tidal devices do not cause unacceptable harm to the marine environment and the animals that live there, particularly fish and marine mammals. New technologies and device components developed for marine energy create potential new interactions with animals and habitats for which there are no data; these interactions provide the greatest concerns and risk for regulatory approval. Baseline data on site characterization and use by animals is limited for sites where wave and tidal development is desirable. The scientific community is currently focused on adapting instruments and techniques to gather data in high-energy environments, including observations of animals in close proximity to devices. A workshop report is being prepared and will be disseminated early in 2015.

Three webinars have been held by Annex IV in 2014, each bringing together between 55 and 140 people online to listen to recent research results and plans:

  1. Summary of Instrumentation Workshop, January 23, 2014
    This webinar summarized a workshop that was held in Seattle in June of 2013 focused on evaluating the gaps in available instrumentation for environmental monitoring and identifying possible solutions to address these gaps. Speakers for this webinar included: Brian Polagye, Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center; and Andrea Copping, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  2. Interactions of Marine Mammals and Birds around Marine Energy Devices, May 19, 2014 
    The second Annex IV webinar discussed the current understanding and new research efforts around interactions between marine mammals and birds and marine energy devices. Speakers for this webinar included: Ben Wilson, Scottish Association for Marine Sciences; Benjamin Williamson, University of Aberdeen; and Beth Scott, University of Aberdeen.

  3. Tidal Energy Research in the Bay of Fundy, October 27, 2014
    As a precursor to the International Conference on Ocean Energy (ICOE) held in Halifax, the third Annex IV webinar highlighted research activities pertaining to the environmental effects of marine renewable energy development in the Bay of Fundy. Speakers included: Graham Daborn, Anna Redden, and Richard Karsten, of Acadia University, as well as Greg Trowse, Fundy Tidal Inc.

    The presentations and discussions are archived at:

Two experts’ forums were held in 2014, each lead by a prominent researcher in the field, with the intent of bringing together select experts to address specific challenges for monitoring potential effects of marine energy development:

  1. Analyzing Acoustic Data around Marine Energy Devices was held on July 24, 2014
    Discussions focused on the use of active acoustic instruments to measure interactions of marine animals and seabirds around marine energy devices and how to adequately address turbulence and other background signals that can interfere with acoustic data. Gayle Zydlewski from the University of Maine in the US led this discussion.
  2. Risk of Collision between Marine Animals and Tidal Turbines was held on December 15, 2014
    This forum was led by Carol Sparling of Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) in the UK. Discussions focused on the challenge of observing collisions and near-turbine interactions for marine animals (marine mammals, birds, fish) in high-energy tidal areas, and the need for predictive models and conceptual frameworks for defining interactions to further our understanding.

    The presentations and discussions are archived at:

The culmination of Phase 2 of Annex IV will be the State of the Science report to be produced in 2016. Efforts have been initiated to develop an outline and assign primary authors for specific chapters of the report. The report will review all the major interactions that potentially place marine animals or habitats at risk from marine energy development. The three case study interactions developed for the Phase 1 Annex IV report (animal interactions with tidal blades; underwater noise effects from marine energy devices on animals; and changes to physical systems from energy removal) will be updated. In addition several more interactions will be explored that may include: effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) on marine animals; effects on fish from reefing around devices; changes to benthic habitats; and potential spatial planning conflicts with fishing and conservation. Case studies that examine siting and permitting of marine energy devices may also be included. The first draft of the State of the Science report will be available for review in late 2015.

Annex IV will partner with the European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (EWTEC) during September 2015 in Nantes, France. As the premier academic conference on marine energy development, every two years EWTEC brings together over 500 researchers from more than 20 countries. Although EWTEC has an environmental track,the network of researchers involved with Annex IV can greatly enhance the participation and variety of papers on environmental effects. At the same time, EWTEC is an opportunity for Annex IV member nations and researchers to share environmental research with a broad audience.

The major focuses of Annex IV activities during 2015 will be organizing the environmental research sessions to be held at the EWTEC conference and developing the State of the Science report. EWTEC will be held during September 2015 and will require coordination among conference participants and speakers, reviewing papers, and organizing plenary and contributed talks. The writing and review period for the State of the Science report will occur during 2015, with a publication date in 2016.

Future efforts will continue to focus on creating a commons around Annex IV and Tethys including: the continuation of the Annex IV environmental webinars and expert forums; the use of social media to reach new users, and the regular addition of new content, metadata, blog posts, and Tethys Blasts to continue engaging the Tethys community. Regular communication and update calls will be held with Annex IV member nation analysts to keep them apprised of Annex IV progress and upcoming activities such as: webinars and expert forums; soliciting new and updated metadata forms; and continued planning for the EWTEC conference and the State of the Science report.