Marine Biogeographic Assessment of the Main Hawaiian Islands
Project Status: This project began in July 2013 and was completed in July 2016
We are using existing spatial data to characterize the distributions of benthic organisms, fish, turtles, mammals, and seabirds in and around the Main Hawaiian Islands. This work will support the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s review of future requests for renewable energy leases and cable right-of-way grants in federal waters. Our work will help minimize the impacts of these future renewable energy projects on the marine ecosystems surrounding the Main Hawaiian Islands.
Why We Care
The state of Hawaii is aiming to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2045. In the coming years, a mix of renewable energy technologies and infrastructure will need to be built to meet this state-wide goal. Some of this energy development may occur in the marine environment, including in federal waters on the outer continental shelf, extending 3 to 200 nautical miles from Hawaii’s shoreline.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is tasked with regulating renewable energy activities in this offshore area. As part of this responsibility, BOEM must conduct detailed environmental analyses of proposed renewable energy projects, including evaluating the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on the human, coastal, and marine environments. Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date spatial information is critical for assessing these proposals and for minimizing their impacts on the surrounding ecosystems.
Given the state of Hawaii’s renewable energy goals, BOEM anticipates that it will begin receiving requests for research and commercial renewable energy leases and right-of-way grants for transmission power cables in the coming years.
What We Are Doing
To help BOEM prepare for future lease and grant requests, we will compile and synthesize spatial information describing the physical environment, benthic communities, and select species and taxonomic groups of cetaceans, seals, seabirds, fish, and corals identified by BOEM staff as being of key interest. Species or groups that are more likely to interact with renewable energy infrastructure will be given special consideration. Since no new field data will be collected during this effort, these analyses will depend on the availability, completeness, and limitations associated with existing data sets.
Products from our work will include:
A final report describing select species’ distributions around the main Hawaiian Islands, and
Select spatial data layers and associated metadata compiled to support these analyses.
Our products will also inform coastal and ocean management efforts by the state of Hawaii and other federal partners in the southern Hawaiian Archipelago.
This work is being funded by BOEM’s Pacific Outer Continental Shelf Region. Successful completion of this project will require cooperation and participation with several other federal, state, and academic sector partners, including the state of Hawaii’s Coastal Zone Management Program, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; the University of Hawaii; NOAA's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, Pacific Island and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Pacific Services Center; as well as the U.S. Navy, U.S. Geological Survey; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, among many others.
Region of Study: Hawaii
Primary Contacts: Bryan Costa, John Christensen
Science for Coastal Ecosystem Management (Biogeographic Assessment, Marine Spatial Planning)
Related NCCOS Center: CCMA
Data Collections and Related Websites
Presentations and/or Posters
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