October 19, 2020

By Ramona du Houx

Research conducted by the Holderness Fishing Industry Group suggests that wind farm construction and operation has no significant negative impact on the ecology of European lobsters.

Results from a survey, published by the Holderness Fishing Industry Group (HFIG), suggest that wind farm construction and operation has no significant negative impact on the ecology of European lobsters.

“Over the last six years we have observed consistent catch rates of lobsters within the perimeter of the wind farm and have seen an increased population of smaller lobsters in the site,” said Dr. Mike Roach, lead scientist on the projects for HFIG.

Leading green energy providers Ørsted worked with HFIG in 2013 to conduct a long-term study which examined the ecological effects on shellfish during the construction and operation of Westermost Rough offshore wind farm.

Six years on and the results have been published to suggest that not only do stocks remain healthy, but also that no detectable impact has been identified for the shellfish.

Officially opened in 2015, Westermost Rough hosts an array of 35 Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy 6MW wind turbines, each towering 177m above sea level.

Located five miles from the east coast of the country, Westermost Rough is sited within one of the largest commercial fishing grounds in Europe for European lobster.

The town of Bridlington lands 310 tonnes of European lobster each year, equating to around 10 percent of all global landings for the crustacean. With concerns from local fishermen expressed during the examination phase of the wind farm project, a bespoke study was created to survey any effects on fishing stock in the area.

Founded in 2011 by the fishermen of East Yorkshire, HFIG aims to facilitate co-existence with other marine sectors which may impact local fishing stock. HFIG utilised their fishing industry owned and dedicated survey vessel, the R.V. Huntress to carry out the research with fishing industry employed scientists on board.

“This study is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and will enable us to ensure the sustainability of the fishing grounds which are once again being used by local fishermen,” said Courtney French, Senior Environment & Consents Commercial Fisheries Specialist at Ørsted. “By easing the concerns of the fishermen surrounding local stock supplies and future sustainability, we’re hoping that these results will help our relationship go from strength to strength.”

“The survey has been scientifically robust in design and in its execution and was an exemplar of collaborative science between the offshore wind and fishing industry,” Dr. Magnus Johnson, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Marine Science at the University of Hull, member of the steering committee for the project praised the positive and collaborative nature of the survey program and also the extensive quantity of sampling and data gathered, said:

Westermost Rough offshore wind farm currently generates enough electricity for 180,000 homes in the United Kingdom.

The study could prove vitally important for Maine as the state prepares for offshore wind turbines, using UMaine technologies.

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