In a bid to validate offshore fish environmental DNA (eDNA) survey strategies, a brand new venture has been launched – mentioned to be the primary of its sort to trial using eDNA to enhance survey strategies for offshore wind farm environmental influence assessments.
Michelle Elliott, the Senior Environmental Advisor main the venture on behalf of renewable power consultancy and repair supplier Pure Energy, mentioned: “There may be vital proof for eDNA offering strong information on fish variety in nearshore environments, however only a few research exist additional offshore, and to our information, there was no work investigating eDNA strategies for fish ecology evaluation close to business offshore wind farms. We imagine this analysis has large potential advantages and can result in marketable alternatives throughout the marine power sector.”
Described as a non-invasive sampling approach, eDNA makes use of samples that may be collected from a variety of vessels and has the potential to ship auditable, strong information, probably changing extra harmful strategies.
One of many venture companions, NatureMetrics, presents itself as a pioneer in utilizing environmental eDNA to determine fish species world wide. This ground-breaking approach relies on the truth that all species shed waste merchandise, pores and skin and tissue cells into the seawater – and so they all comprise the underlying DNA of the fish. Accumulating and filtering a couple of litres of seawater concentrates the DNA, which may then be processed within the NatureMetrics lab to determine all of the completely different fish species current. It means there isn’t any must bodily catch and even see the fish to know they’re there. It’s a a lot faster, cheaper, safer, scalable, and extra dependable method than conventional survey methods.
Dr Samuel Stanton, World Sector Head, Marine and Power at NatureMetrics, mentioned: “I’m trying ahead to displaying how eDNA strategies might help firms within the marine power sector monitor nature cheaply, shortly, repeatably, and at giant scale. Now we have already efficiently demonstrated that eDNA will detect extra fish species than standard internet survey strategies for a coastal fish survey in Sweden. I’m assured our know-how might help renewable power firms higher handle nature-related dangers and transition to a nature optimistic financial system.”
General, this technique ought to assist to cut back the prices of offshore wind developments; decreasing total value of power manufacturing while additionally minimising the environmental influence, and due to this fact serving to to satisfy the UK’s 2050 net-zero goal.
In assist of the initiative, EDF Renewables is offering entry to the Blyth Offshore Demonstrator (BOD) for the analysis venture to happen.
BOD, which is operated by EDF Renewables, has already validated progressive strategies on the website by means of the primary profitable float and submerge gravity base foundations used on an offshore wind farm. Pure Energy has offered a spread of providers on the website all through the final decade, together with pre and post-consent fish ecological surveys.
Scott Sutherland, Head of Offshore at EDF Renewables, mentioned: “We imagine that eDNA methods have the potential to cut back obstacles in consenting for offshore wind farm tasks sooner or later by means of extra focused baseline information assortment, mitigation, and monitoring measures. If such methods will be validated throughout the offshore setting as a viable various to conventional fish survey methods, it might have vital advantages to each the developer and stakeholder communities, and we’re desperate to glean the insights from this priceless analysis work.”
With assist from EDF Renewables, and utilising NatureMetrics’ eDNA consultants, the analysis venture will start in March 2022. Surveys will probably be carried out utilizing conventional fish trawling strategies in addition to eDNA sampling across the BOD website. Comparability of the eDNA outcomes with concurrent trawl information and with historic fish group information will probably be undertaken offering a sturdy evaluation and validation of the approach.
Dr Samuel Stanton added: “We’re delighted to be working alongside Pure Energy and EDF Renewables to assist advance strategies and insights, and imagine it presents a real-world growth alternative for making use of eDNA methods within the offshore renewables business.”
The staff predicts a spread of extra environmental advantages from this venture, corresponding to the gathering of knowledge on key marine mammal species, just like the Minke whale, the place info on seasonal occurrences is just not properly understood resulting from their inconspicuous nature. This can be utilized in wider ecological monitoring and to raised inform marine spatial planning for offshore power manufacturing and different sectors.
The end result of this analysis will kind a scientific paper and formal public presentation of findings alongside suggestions for future business use.
The 18-month venture has acquired an innovation grant of £33, 918, from the Offshore Wind Development Partnership
(OWGP). The grant covers 50% of the overall venture value with Pure Energy and NatureMetrics offering vital in-kind contributions and EDF Renewables contributing financial funding.