Webinar: Adaptive Management Systems – Don’t make the same mistakes twice!

environment Socio-economics
Webinar: Adaptive Management Systems – Don’t make the same mistakes twice!
ETIP graph AMS 2

13 December 2017

3:00pm (Brussels, Berlin, Paris)

2:00pm (London, Dublin, Lisbon)



Marine Scotland - Finlay Bennet

Royal HaskoningDHV - Frank Fortune


Adaptive management techniques can make ocean energy development vastly more efficient. Lessons learnt during previous project cycles are incorporated to the next stage of project development. It will ultimately lead to a better projects’ performance, including lesser environmental impact and a better technical outcome. 

The lessons learnt during this process can also be valuably fed back to regulators and funders. 

Finlay Bennet and Frank Fortune shared their knowledge of the ins and outs of Adaptive Management Systems, and answered questions from the participants.


View the video recording and the presentation slides.


ETIP Ocean - Adaptive management systems from Ocean Energy Europe on Vimeo.


Webinar findings:

- Adaptive management – an interactive process where uncertainty regarding environmental effects is progressive reduced, through managed, science led monitoring of agreed indicators. Adaptive management is highly relevant for decision makers who are concerned about scientific uncertainty.

- In the face of uncertainty, regulators tend to favour a conservative approach, even when the objective of a project is broadly supported.  Adaptive management establishes the process that enables decision makers to reduce uncertainty and to become progressively better informed and more confident in the decisions they have to make.

- The US is more advanced in implementing Adaptive Management. In 2009 the US Department of the Interior published technical guidelines - currently these are the best document that specifies Adaptive Management.

- EU law requires the application of the precautionary principal. Adaptive Management can be used in its context. If done properly, Adaptive Management will address concerns that assessments are overly precautionary.

- Avoid DRIPy (data rich information poor) monitoring. It does not increase understanding and cost a lot of money.

- Survey, Deploy, Monitor policy adopted in Scotland – Adaptive Management approach. H2020 sponsored RiCore project is a good example of the work on Survey, Deploy, Monitoring approach by partners from United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.

- In areas of particular environmental sensitivity, it may be necessary to put in place a number of short term precautionary mitigation measures, to reduce potential for effects to a level considered acceptable to regulators and stakeholders. 


Reducing project risk should be a key project aim. There are various ways to minimise risk including:

-          Good data (temporal, spatial, fit for (a clearly defined) purpose (baseline and monitoring);

-          Agree approach with regulator and take an adaptive approach to management where uncertainty exists;

-          Good project communication;

-          Be open and acknowledge what is unknown, an adaptive approach may offer a way forward


SeaGen project.

Initial monitoring proved that SeaGen turbines can be shut down rapidly. Precautionary shut down distance for marine mammals reduced in stages from 200m to <30m. After these changes the turbines could work almost without any shutdown.

Adaptive Management approach increased in understanding at the general level. At the regulator level, project could move forward and to reduce some mitigation measures. It demonstrated availability to change.

Outcome of SeaGen project:

-          Provided learning regarding effects (or lack) of SeaGen on the marine environment and key receptors;

-          Demonstrate adaptive approach with mitigation measures progressively reduced in parallel to reductions of uncertainty;

-          Regulator comfort from monitoring effects of changes to mitigation and the capacity for reinstating if required;

-          Tidal turbines operated for over 5 years justifying confidence in the technology and supporting future projects (learning taken to Meygen);

-          Demonstrate stable and significant export to grid;



-          Adaptive Management system should be used in the consenting processes where there is a big scientific uncertainty. Adaptive Management gives comfort to the regulator that there is a mechanism in place to mitigate potential impact. Collect data on the impact on the key receptor. And over time reduce those mitigation measures if indicated, while continuing to monitor.

-          Look very carefully at the data collection at the environment assessment phase – it is essential to reduce uncertainty. And discuss uncertainties early in the process with the regulator.

-          It is not reasonable to expect that developers alone will create a wider knowledge base line. To gather wider information (create wider basic knowledge) we need a help from other stakeholders, national or regional institutions, EU and national budget. There should be cooperation between academia and other institutions.

-          We need to have demonstrations (project in the water) that could move forward our understanding and make changes to our understanding. There is a need to start collecting actual data about perceived impact.

-          We should be careful at looking at standards and methodology in order for them not to become too dogmatic.