Saturday, December 2, 2023

Fish eDNA challenge highlights promise of environmental survey work at offshore wind farms

A brand new report validates the usage of fish environmental DNA (eDNA) survey strategies, declaring that they may rework the best way fish ecology surveys are performed for offshore wind farm developments. It has been produced by renewable vitality consultancy and repair supplier, Pure Energy, together with challenge companions, EDF Renewables and environmental DNA and nature intelligence professional, NatureMetrics.

Michelle Elliott, the Principal Environmental Advisor main the challenge on behalf of Pure Energy, mentioned: “As we quickly transition to renewable vitality sources to assist sort out local weather change, provide chain assets are below strain so there’s by no means been a larger want for brand new know-how and practices that assist to maximise assets.

The group mentioned the research demonstrates that eDNA-based surveys provide a market-ready resolution to optimise consenting section surveys of offshore wind website improvement, in addition to ongoing monitoring and focused mitigation methods. Changing conventional survey strategies for fish communities round offshore wind farms with eDNA sampling will provide enormous advantages to the trade by offering extra environment friendly and scalable consenting and website survey options which may scale back threat of delays to the event of offshore wind farms, while decreasing prices for builders and operators, in the end decreasing the price of total vitality manufacturing.

Regulator and stakeholder acceptance of eDNA strategies to be used in offshore baseline setting and monitoring will now be a key step in the direction of accelerating and bettering environmental monitoring for future offshore wind improvement.”

The aim of the analysis was to supply an proof base for the potential acceptance of eDNA-based strategies as a legitimate various to standard fish trawl surveys, so each strategies have been performed in parallel. Seasonal co-located trawls and eDNA sampling have been carried out at 4 places across the Blyth Offshore Demonstrator, with eDNA sampling at two extra places inside the turbine array, which was not attainable to survey by trawl sampling. Samples have been analysed for environmental DNA utilizing fish, vertebrate (fish, mammals and birds) and invertebrate assays. This report focuses on fish ecology and marine mammal prevalence, whereas the investigation into the invertebrate communities is ongoing and will probably be reported on in the end.

The eDNA methodology; which is a non-invasive sampling method that makes use of seawater samples that may be collected from a variety of vessels, to ship auditable, sturdy information; persistently detected a larger variety of species than trawl information (57 species detected by eDNA, together with eel (Anguilla anguilla), noticed dragonet (Callionymus lyra), sea snails (Liparis liparis and Liparis Monatgui), crystal goby (Crystallogobius linearis) and sea scorpion (Taurulus bubalis), in comparison with 26 species in trawls). Moreover, the analysis signifies that eDNA strategies not solely choose up particular person species tendencies however may also be used to calculate ecological range metrics and observe seasonal, spatial, and temporal variations in neighborhood composition.

Essential to this system is NatureMetrics’ pioneering use of eDNA to establish fish species world wide. Gathering and filtering just a few litres of seawater concentrates the DNA left behind in species’ waste merchandise, comparable to pores and skin and tissue cells, which may then be processed within the NatureMetrics lab to establish all of the totally different fish species current. It means there isn’t any must bodily catch and even see the fish to know they’re there. Samples may be collected by anybody and from a variety of vessels, which suggests the duty may be carried out throughout different website investigation surveys decreasing prices, time, and useful resource necessities.

Krystle Robson, Head of Offshore at NatureMetrics, mentioned: “Because the race for web zero ramps up, inexperienced infrastructure tasks want new instruments to assist pace up planning, whereas additionally making certain sturdy safety for biodiversity. This challenge demonstrates the viability and scalability of eDNA as an answer to attain each these goals.”

In assist of the initiative, EDF Renewables offered entry to the Blyth Offshore Demonstrator (BOD) for the analysis challenge to happen.

Ryanne Burges, Director of Offshore Wind and Eire at EDF Renewables UK, mentioned: ” EDF Renewables is extremely proud to be part of this pioneering challenge. Blyth Offshore wind farm has been a flagship of innovation for the trade, so it was the proper location to pilot the usage of environmental DNA fish surveys. By amassing and analysing DNA shed by fish into the water, this methodology eliminates the necessity for extra invasive trawling surveys, higher defending marine ecosystems.

“Using environmental DNA in fish ecology additionally has the potential for enormous advantages to the broader trade by offering a safer, extra environment friendly, reasonably priced and scalable resolution which might pace up improvement and in the end scale back the price of total vitality manufacturing. We’re excited to see this system rolled out throughout our future pipeline and urge adoption of the method instead of conventional trawl surveys by the trade.”

The 18-month challenge, which commenced in March 2022, obtained an innovation grant of £33, 918, from the Offshore Wind Development Partnership (OWGP). The grant covers 50% of the whole challenge value with Pure Energy and NatureMetrics offering vital in-kind contributions and EDF Renewables contributing additional financial funding.

The report may be downloaded right here

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