Ørsted: Fishing in a Wind Farm – Holderness Lobster Fishery
Collaborating with other marine users to protect local species
What we know
Ørsted’s Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm is located off the east coast of England within the best lobster fishing grounds in Europe; the Holderness coast lobster fishery.
When Westermost Rough was being developed, the effects of offshore wind farms on mobile benthic megafauna, such as crabs and lobsters, that are targeted by static gear fisheries were little understood. During consultation, local fishermen expressed concerns that both the construction and operation of the wind farm could harm local lobster and crab stocks and therefore affect their future livelihoods and businesses.
Coexistence with other marine users is an important aspect of responsible wind farm development, and Ørsted takes pride in its positive collaborations with fishing stakeholders and science-led approach.
What we’re doing
Ørsted sought a collaboration with the Holderness Fishing Industry Group (HFIG) and the University of Hull in 2013.
We worked to develop and conduct a long-term study examining the potential ecological effects on shellfish during the construction and operation of Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm. The research initiative was a significant undertaking, funded by Ørsted and conducted using HFIG’s dedicated survey vessel.
The survey was timed to target the peak lobster fishery between June and September in 2013, with sampling mirrored in 2015 and 2017. These surveys were analysed to understand any differences in size and catch rates between areas within the wind farm and those outside.
Ørsted worked with HFIG to establish the Yorkshire Marine Research Centre, with the project undertaking research on ecology, marine science and fishery biology. Studies conducted at the facility – many of which have been suggested by fishermen who are members of HFIG – will be supported by Ørsted as a long-term scientific collaboration.
What it’s worth
The data collected has demonstrated that the local fishing industry can continue to thrive within the Westermost Rough offshore wind farm, with no significant difference between catch rates pre- and post-construction of the project.
The study was the first of its kind to be conducted anywhere in the world and is proving to be of significant value in easing fishermen’s concerns about fishing inside a wind farm and offshore wind development in general.
It has proved that temporary closure offers some respite for adult animals and leads to increases in abundance and size of the target species within the area. Additionally, it has brought light to the potential for wind farms to have beneficial implications for the long-term management of shellfish stocks, by acting as quasi-marine protected areas.
Studies conducted at the Yorkshire Marine Research Centre will seek to better understand the marine habitats of native species and the interaction between offshore wind on the fishing industry. Upon completion of the centres’ studies, healthy juvenile shellfish will be released back into the sea, acting as a form of stock enhancement. Ørsted has also established a good-will East Coast Fisheries Fund which will support research into sustainable fisheries management and coexistence between offshore wind and fisheries for our East Coast projects.
Carrying out the studies has developed an open and honest relationship between Ørsted, the local fishing community and local experts, ensuring the most effective outcomes for nature and people.
Biodiversity is our life-support system, and it’s in crisis. This is especially true in the marine environment, where loss of marine biodiversity is weakening the ocean’s role as a key global climate regulator, while offshore wind will play a critical role in reaching net zero. As the world’s most sustainable energy company and the global leader in offshore wind, Ørsted is committed to using our experience to deliver the industry-leading goal of transforming all our renewable energy projects to create net positive impact for biodiversity, working in partnership to deliver healthier oceans as we tackle the climate emergency.”Benjamin Sykes Head of Market Development, Consenting and External Affairs, Ørsted