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Germany Protects Porpoise With New Offshore-Wind Rules

Germany set new construction guidelines for developers of offshore wind farms to protect porpoises in the North Sea.

Companies sinking turbine foundations into the seabed must ensure that noise from the work is minimized, especially from May to August when porpoises give birth and raise their young, the Environment Ministry said today in an e-mailed statement.

Developers including EON SE and RWE AG, the country’s two biggest utilities, are using technologies that reduce noise from driving turbines into the seabed after conservation groups complained that it damaged the sonar-like hearing of porpoises.

The animals use clicking sounds to navigate, locate prey and find mating partners, meaning excessive noise is an “existential threat” to them, the Environment Ministry said. Developers will have to adhere to the new guidelines, which took effect yesterday, when applying for new projects.

About 231,000 porpoises, which are smaller and stouter than dolphins, live in the North Sea and Baltic Sea, according to Sven Koschinski, a German marine biologist and consultant.

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