Oregon State University

Identification of Outer Continental Shelf Renewable Energy Space-Use Conflicts and Analysis of Potential Mitigation Measures

Wave breaking at seaIdentification of Outer Continental Shelf Renewable Energy Space-Use Conflicts and Analysis of Potential Mitigation Measures

Oregon co-PI: Flaxen Conway
Marine Resource Management Program
OSU College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
311A Strand Ag Bldg, OSU.
Mailing address: 104 CEOAS Admin Bldg, Corvallis OR 97331-5503)
Phone: 541-737-1339

Funding: US Bureau of Energy Management

In our nation’s search for renewable energy sources, the potential to harness the clean power of wind, wave, and tide is irresistible. Our long coastlines offer what appears at first glance to be virgin territory for development of energy producing facilities. A longer look, however, reveals that our coastal and offshore areas are teeming with productive activity, activity that could suffer if ignored in planning for marine energy.

In 2011 and 2012, OSG's Flaxen Conway worked with Madeleine Hall-Arber of MIT Sea Grant, Carrie Pomeroy of California Sea Grant and Industrial Economics, Inc., plus multiple collaborators from the Urban Harbors Institute and Virginia Sea Grant to identify, and develop strategies to avoid and reduce potential space-use conflicts on the Outer Continental Shelf in the context of alternative energy development.

The study documents the characteristics of uses including transportation and shipping, commercial and recreational fishing, sailing and boating, military operations, sand and gravel excavation, oil and gas facilities, and scientific research, and the cooperation and conflict negotiation that arise among such users. The authors note that when two users want exclusive access to an area, It puts pressure on federal, state, and regional agencies or organizations to try to manage the offshore space equitably. New uses, such as aquaculture and marine renewable energy, with their demand for extensive, exclusive space may engender additional serious conflicts.

Despite the diversity of uses and potential conflict on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, the project developed a number of common recommendations as marine energy development efforts proceed:

  • Planning and siting of marine renewable energy facilities must be done with stakeholders involved throughout the multi-stage process.
    • Transparency, communication, and incorporation of local knowledge is key
    • Local level decision-making should be facilitated
  • Maps and images with easily understood descriptions are essential to the planning process, but they are snapshots in time that have inherent limitations in conveying the highly dynamic nature of space use.
    • Local knowledge of historical use is valuable to track change
  • Information on how some industries use the ocean is lacking and this data gap should be addressed
    • Safety considerations are particularly important
    • Crowding and other space constraints, on land as well as at sea, need attention
  • Sociocultural differences within and among regional user groups should be considered and included in the development and implementation of plans including:
    • Aesthetic and traditional values
    • Maintenance of food security
    • Distributional and cumulative impacts, particularly on small-scale users who may not be well-represented
  • Mitigation is not universally applauded, so efforts must be made to avoid the need for mitigation and to identify site-specific mitigation techniques.

Learn more

  • An extract of the final report highlighting issues most relevant to the Pacific Northwest. Download here (2.9 MB .pdf)
  • Download the complete report (12.6 MB pdf) from the BOEM.
  • Additional reports, maps and data can be found on Oregon Ocean Info, a multi-agency state of Oregon resource for planning in the territorial sea

Contact Info

Oregon Sea Grant
1600 SW Western Blvd
Suite 350
Corvallis OR 97333
Phone: 541-737-2714
FAX: 541-737-7958

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