The National Wildlife Federation, NRDC, and Conservation Law Foundation are teaming up to help solve two conservation issues in one shot. The proposition to build electricity-generating wind turbines off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island has been met with lots of opposition. From complaints over the turbines being an eye sore and tourist deterrents, to the ambient noise they might cause, many of these issues have been registered as fairly minor if not a bit frivolous. However, among some of the problems posed by the turbines is of utmost concern to top conservationists: the potential impact on the Atlantic Right whale.
The North Atlantic Right whale population is currently wavering around 350 whales. Threatened by ship strikes, commercial fishing nets, as well as sonar noise pollution, the Right whale cannot afford to add any new threats to its list.
This presents scientists and conservationists with a serious dilemma, which matter is more pressing? Should they cancel the turbine project and protect the Right whale and allow coal-burning power plants to continue emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere OR build the turbines and sacrifice the Right whale populations. It’s definitely not a decision I would want to be in charge of…
Luckily, the National Wildlife Federation, NRDC, and Conservation Law Foundation have been able to devise a comprehensive plan in collaboration with Deepwater Wind that will not sacrifice either. Really this is a win all around. By taking precautions to limit underwater noise pollution and imposing speed limits for ships, Deepwater Wind has agreed to protect the precious Right whale.
From an environmental stand point, this represents a short and long term plan to protect not only the Right whale, but all the species of the world’s oceans. Increasing clean energy sources will help to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions that are responsible for ocean acidification as well as rising sea temperatures. Keeping the Right whale safe in the short term paves a clear path to their future success.
Image source: Edith Schreurs / Wikipedia Commons