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Co-existence in practice: a collaborative study of the effects of the Westermost Rough offshore wind development on the size distribution and catch rates of a commercially important lobster (Homarus gammarus) population

ICES Journal of Marine Science

Abstract:

The global expansion of offshore windfarms (OWF), whilst seen as a tool to combat climate change, can often be of concern to fishing communities already challenged by spatial restrictions. Static gear fisheries, due to their strong fidelity to specific sites, can be particularly affected by spatial conflict with OWF. Here we investigate, using four sampling efforts over a six-year period, the effects of the development of the Westermost Rough OWF (UK) on a commercially important European Lobster (Homarus gammarus) population. A collaborative study was developed and conducted by the local fishery and the developer. A baseline potting survey was conducted ∼ every 4 days over the summer months of 2013 (pre-construction) and post-construction surveys were conducted in 2015, 2017, and 2019. Size, catch, and landings per unit of effort (CPUE & LPUE) of all lobsters were recorded and compared between sites and between years. Size structure and catch rates differed between years, however differences were not observed in comparisons of the windfarm and export cable to their associated control sites within each year, although there were compounding factors associated with the proximity of the control sites to the treatment sites. There was a short-term increase in size and catch rates of lobsters associated with the construction phase of the windfarm site, but this was not observed during the subsequent operational phase surveys. Although the impacts of windfarms on fisheries will vary on a case-by-case basis, this study has implications for the expansion of offshore wind developments on other static gear crustacean fisheries.

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Contact person:

Michael Roach: m.roachathfig.org.uk (m[dot]roach[at]hfig[dot]org[dot]uk)

 

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