Annual Report 2016

Task 4 - Assesment of Environmental Effects and Monitoring Efforts


Task 4 on Assessment of Environment Effects and Monitoring Efforts known as “Annex IV” seeks to be the premier international program engaged in bringing together information and practitioners on environmental effects of marine renewable energy development.

The third phase of Annex IV was approved by the OES ExCo in May, 2016. It will build on the work completed during the first phase, by continuing to collect, analyze, and disseminate information, to enhance the development of the marine renewable 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 Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 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-

During 2016, Phases 2 and 3 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
  • Release of the 2016 State of the Science report.

Progress towards each achievement is described in the following sections.


     Phase III: 2016 - 2020
     Phase II:  2013 - 2016
     Phase I:   2010 - 2013

In 2016: Jocelyn Brown-Saracino US Department of Energy (DOE)

In 2017: Samantha Eaves, US Department of Energy (DOE)/Allegheny Science & Technology

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (US)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US)

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US), assisted by Aquatera Ltd (UK)

Canada, China, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States of America


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 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 to help identify topics for Annex IV webinars, expert forums, and workshop topics;
  • Providing reviews of products, such as Tethys content and functionality;
  • Providing review of the State of the Science report;
  • Acting as an ambassador for Annex IV in their respective country;
  • Translating the State of the Science Report Executive Summary from English into the official language of 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 phases 1 and 2, 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 2016, 4 new project sites and 2 new research study forms have been added, while 11 project site forms and 6 research study forms have been updated within the last 18 months. Additionally, 33 project sites and 42 research studies have been determined as “completed” or “canceled” and no longer require updates. The total Annex IV metadata form collection on Tethys currently includes 84 project sites and 58 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 807 papers in the last year, for a total of 3,268 entries. The collection includes information on offshore wind effects as well, but a large portion of the papers are exclusively about marine energy development. Over the past year, Tethys has seen an increase in total visits to the site of 18.1%. During 2016, fourteen reviewers provided 98 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 short survey was also sent to the entire Tethys community, providing 72 responses; these results gave an idea how users interact with the website.

A one-day workshop was held on February 22, 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland, bringing together regulators, marine energy researchers and industry representatives, to identify the key challenges within the consenting process regarding collision risk for marine wildlife with tidal turbines and to produce a coordinated action plan, providing a framework to help reduce risk and uncertainty for developers and regulators. The workshop was hosted by University of Highlands and Islands, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Marine Scotland, OES Annex IV, ORJIP Ocean Energy and ORE Catapult. The report and action plan from this workshop are available at

The Pacific Region Marine Renewables Environmental Regulatory Workshop was held concurrently with 11th Annual Ocean Renewable Energy Conference in Portland, OR, USA on September 21, 2016. The workshop was held to highlight the publication of two documents that address potential environmental effects from marine renewable energy development, and that are integral to understanding how the region can move forward with permitting MRE development. The two documents: Annex IV 2016 State of the Science Report; and A Review of the Environmental Impacts for Marine Hydrokinetic Projects to Inform Regulatory Permitting: Summary Findings from the 2015 Workshop on Marine Hydrokinetic Technologies, Washington D.C., were presented to the participants. More information about the workshop is available at

Four webinars were held by Annex IV in 2016, each bringing together between 53 and 85 people online to listen to recent research results and plans. Each of the webinars have been downloaded and viewed hundreds of times from Tethys.

  1. Adaptive management in the Marine Renewable Energy Industry, 27 January 2016
    This webinar focused on adaptive management, and how it can be used as an effective decision making process in the face of uncertainty for the MRE industry. Speakers for this webinar included: Kim Hatfield, NOAA; Nate Johnson, ORPC; and Finlay Bennet, Marine Science Scotland.
  2. Collision Risk - Understanding and Resolving the Problem in Scotland, 15 March 2016
    Following the International Conference on Ocean Energy (ICOE 2016) at Edinburgh, Scotland, this webinar focused on the key challenges within the permitting/consenting processes related to collision risk. Speakers for this webinar included: Dr. Ian Davies, Marine Science Scotland; George Lees, Scottish Natural Heritage; Dr. Ben Wilson, Scottish Association of Marine Science; and Dr. Carol Sparling, Sea Mammal Research Unit.
  3. State of the Science Report, 10 May 2016
    After the release of the State of the Science report, this webinar was held to provide an overview of the report and serve as outreach. The speaker for this webinar was Dr. Andrea Copping, PNNL.
  4. Role of Biofouling in Marine Renewable Energy Development, 12 July 2016
    This webinar focused on the role of marine growth in efficiency, maintenance, hard structural integrity of marine renewable energy devices. Speakers for this webinar included: Dr. Raeanne Miller, Scottish Association for Marine Science; and Dr. Jennifer Loxton, University of Highlands and Islands.

The presentations and discussions from all webinars are archived at:


In addition to environmental webinars, Annex IV held two online expert forums through Tethys. These forums are intended to target specific issues and interactions with high levels of uncertainty that continue to hinder the advancement of research efforts and the industry as a whole, and that are being addressed by multiple research groups worldwide.

  1. Potential Risks to Larvae and Plankton from Tidal Turbines, 11 August 2016
    This expert forum discussed risk to plankton, lobster and fish larvae from tidal turbines, a concern that was raised specifically in the Bay of Fundy. Dr. Anna Redden from Acadia University organized this meeting, while Dr. Andrea Copping from PNNL led the discussion, with participation from 17 other researchers and scientists.
  2. Risk of Collision Between Marine Mammals and Tidal Turbines - Assessing at the Population Level, 16 August 2016
    This expert forum focused on the population level assessment of collision risk of animals with tidal turbines, assessing consequences, setting thresholds, modeling population impacts, and examining regulations. Dr. Carol Sparling from SMRU Consulting led this discussion, with participation from 17 other researchers and scientists.

Recordings of the Expert Forums can be viewed on Tethys at:


The culmination of Phase 2 of Annex IV was the State of the Science of environmental impacts of marine renewable energy (MRE) report. Specific chapters detail the current state of scientific understanding, identify continued data gaps and suggest research and monitoring needs moving forward for important environmental concerns. The report includes chapters on:

  1. An introduction to Annex IV,
  2. A Summary of the Potential Environmental Interactions Associated with the Deployment of Marine Renewable Energy Devices,
  3. Collision Risk for Animals Around Tidal Turbines
  4. Risk to Marine Animals from Underwater Sound Generated by Marine Renewable Energy Devices,
  5. Changes in Physical Systems: Energy Removal and Changes in Flow,
  6. Effects of EMF on Marine Animals from Electrical Cables and Marine Renewable Energy Devices,
  7. Changes in Habitat Caused by Marine Renewable Energy Devices: Benthic Habitats and Reefing Patterns
  8. Marine Spatial Planning and Marine Renewable Energy, and
  9. Case Studies that Examine Siting and Permitting/Consenting of Marine Renewable Energy Devices. 

The final report was officially released in April 2016 and multiple presentations and briefings have occurred to help disseminate the report. In addition to the full report, short one-page summaries of each chapter were prepared, and the Executive Summary is available in seven different languages (English, Chinese, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish).

The Full Report, Executive Summary, and one page chapter summaries are available on Tethys at:


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 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.