Annual Report 2017

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 (MRE) development.

The third phase of Annex IV was approved by the OES ExCo in May, 2016. This phase builds on the work completed during the first two phases by continuing to collect and synthesize disseminate environmental effects information and by providing access to such knowledge and information related to research, monitoring, and evaluation of environmental effects of MRE information that helps advance the MRE industry.

Annex IV is supported by the publicly accessible, online knowledge management system Tethys, developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, that was created to provide a commons for Annex IV and facilitate connectivity and collaboration among members of the MRE community. Tethys hosts a knowledge base and map viewer providing access to MRE documents and broadcasts and archives Annex IV webinars and expert forums focused on important scientific issues that are critical to the siting and permitting (consenting) of MRE 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 MRE devices.


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

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, 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 12 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 MRE 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 Annex IV products and Tethys content;
  • Acting as an ambassador for Annex IV in their respective country;
  • Translating key Annex IV documents from English into the official language of their respective country.


Information is collected for ongoing MRE project sites and research studies in the form of metadata that describe the project or study, the methods and outcomes of environmental monitoring, and provide contact information for the project developers or researchers. 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 stored as metadata in Tethys (Table 1). Existing metadata forms were updated by working with the country analysts, developers, researchers, and by using a metadata management system that automates emails asking for annual updates. During 2017, there was a strong effort to update old forms from the initial collection in 2012, especially as these forms have been particularly difficult to update. Through this focused effort, 28 metadata forms were updated.

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 411 papers in the last year, for a total of 3,634 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 11.6%. During 2017, a Tethys Peer Review was completed by soliciting reviews and feedback on the content and functionality of Tethys from the greater Tethys community. A total of 103 reviews were collected through SurveyMonkey. The results of the peer review help understand how users interact with the website and provide a guide to improvements and changes to the system.


During 2017, Annex IV co-hosted two workshops with the Offshore Renewables Joint Industry Programme (ORJIP). The workshop topics were determined by needs identified by the Annex IV analysts and at the suggestion of regulatory agencies. The first workshop was held on May 9, 2017 in Gasglow, Scotland and brought together 26 researchers, regulators, and developers to discuss management measures for ensuring that environmental permitting of MRE devices could move forward in the face of uncertainty. The workshop output was incorporated into an online tool to help developers and regulators discuss consenting needs and monitoring requirements. The second workshop was held in conjunction with the European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (EWTEC) in Cork, Ireland on August 31, 2017. This workshop focused on social and economic issues around permitting and brought together 50 participants to examine the data and information needed to consent MRE devices and arrays.



Four webinars were held by Annex IV in 2017, each bringing together between 48 and 66 people online to listen to recent research results and plans. The webinars are archived on Tethys; each webinar has been downloaded and viewed hundreds of times after the event:

  1. Recent Research of Interest to the MRE Industry, 18 January 2017
  2. Artificial Reefs and Benthic Changes in Relation to MRE, 25 April 2017
  3. Fisheries Interactions with MRE Devices, 19 June 2017
  4. Information Collection and Consenting Processes for Wave and Tidal Deployments – Lessons from the Field, 21 September 2017

Webinars are archived at:


In addition to environmental webinars, Annex IV held two online expert forums through Tethys. These forums are by invitation only are intended to target specific research issues and interactions that have a high level of uncertainty and that continue to hinder the advancement of research efforts related to consenting, and that are being addressed by multiple research groups worldwide:

  1. Standardization of the Data We Collect, 27 February 2017
  2. Monitoring around Tidal and Wave Arrays, 4 April 2017
  3. Environmental Monitoring around Tidal and Wave Arrays, 12 January 2017

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


In 2016, Annex IV produced a “State of the Science” (SOS) report summarizing the current understanding of environmental risks and uncertainties between MRE devices and the marine environment. Eight quick-reference one-page documents— called “Short Science Summaries”—accompany the SOS report. The Short Science Summaries are intended to be examined, and if needed updated, on a yearly basis. With the Annex IV SOS Reports and Short Science Summaries released during 2016, the focus for 2017 was on an active outreach using the SOS report and accompanying products and analysis of new information that warranted product updates.

In 2017, one new Short Science Summary - “Entanglement with Marine Renewable Energy Mooring Lines” - was created, reviewed, designed, and posted on Tethys. Outreach activities included a variety of online and in-person presentations, targeted online meetings with agency staff, and numerous less formal presentations and discussions.

The Annex IV team initiated a literature review process in 2017 to evaluate the extent of that new studies and information released since the 2016 State of the Science report might provide new insights. The outcome of the literature review will be used to update the Short Science Summaries, and to inform the 2020 State of the Science report.

The literature review was carried out through systematic searches on Tethys and the Web of Science (WOS), and a method was established to systematically evaluate the results. A total of 172 entries of new research were identified in Tethys and 141 in WOS; these records were categorized across five environmental focus areas and refined to 151 records that were relevant to the environmental effects of the MRE industry (118 from Tethys and 34 from WOS). The associated 151 abstracts were reviewed based on a set of six structured questions that helped determine that approximately 34 percent of the records were likely relevant to be considered for one or more updates of SOS one-pagers. The literature review process, findings, results, lessons learned, and recommendation are documented in a separate report.


In 2017, the Annex IV team worked with US MRE regulators to understand the challenges involved in permitting MRE devices, and to begin to address these challenges. A webinar on the Environmental Effects of Permitting MRE Development was held March 29, 2017 for regulators that covered current environmental effects topics facing MRE developments, coupled with the latest research findings. The speaker for this webinar was Andrea Copping, PNNL and the webinar is archived on Tethys:

Following the webinar, US federal and state regulators were asked to participate in a survey to understand regulators’ knowledge of, and preferences for, consenting MRE development. 35 complete responses were received from 15 US federal regulators and 20 US state regulators. Some notable survey results include that regulator’s familiarity with wave and tidal technologies is low; that they perceive a difference in impacts between singe devices and arrays and that the risks increases with the scale of the development; and that 25% of state regulators and 36% of federal regulators felt environmental data could “absolutely” be transferred between locations. Based on the survey, progress can be made with the regulatory community through three distinct pathways:

  • Information Dissemination – There is a need for wide dissemination of what is known about MRE interactions with the marine environment, and that knowledge needs to be put into context to ensure that regulators and other members of the MRE community have a common understanding of the risks.
  • Data Transfer – A case should be made with regulators that data can be transferred from one MRE project to another, and a set of best practices for data transfer data collection consistency should be developed and promulgated.
  • New Research – Outstanding questions remaining about interactions of MRE developments and the marine environment will require new research. These questions will be collated throughout the process of regulator engagement and made available to funding sources.

A second webinar was held with regulators to focus on data transferability. The Environmental Effects of MRE Development: Regulatory Survey Results and Next Steps webinar was held on November 2, 2017. This webinar presented the survey results and discussed data transferability and collection consistency with the intent of reducing costs for baseline environmental studies and post-installation monitoring, decreasing uncertainty, and facilitating common understanding to accelerate consenting processes. The speaker for this webinar was Andrea Copping, PNNL and it can be found on Tethys:


Data transferability has become the theme for the Annex IV team in 2018. A white paper on data transferability has been written that details the need for data transferability and collection consistency for environmental effects of MRE data. The white paper is undergoing review. The paper is based on input from regulators, a literature review on data transferability in other industries, and proposes a data transferability framework that could help regulators and other stakeholders move towards transferring data among projects and countries. The paper includes a plan for additional outreach and testing of synthetic datasets with regulators, and taking the results to the larger MRE community at a workshop at ICOE. Following the ICOE workshop, a report is proposed that will develop a set of best practices for data transferability.

Future efforts will continue to create a commons around Annex IV and Tethys including: the continuation of the Annex IV environmental webinars and the regular addition of new content, metadata, Tethys Stories, and Tethys Blasts to continue engaging the Tethys community. Regular communication and update calls will be held with Annex IV member nation analysts to engage them in Annex IV progress and upcoming activities such as: webinars, conferences and workshops, and soliciting new and updated metadata forms. The major focus over 2018 will be on data transferabilty and data collection consistency as a pathway to smooth and shorten consenting timelines.

Annex IV expects to have a presence at several conferences including EIMR (Environmental Impacts of Marine Renewables) in the UK; METS (Marine Energy Technology Symposium) in the US; ICOE (International Conference on Ocean Energy) in France and AWTEC (Asian Wave and Tidal Energy Conference) in Taipei.