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Impact of the use of offshore wind and other marine renewables on European fisheries

European Parliament


The study provides an overview of general impacts of the development of offshore wind farms and other marine renewables on the European fishing sector. It further highlights pathways for possible co-existence solutions of both sectors, a description of best practice examples and lessons learnt, the identification of research gaps and last but not least the presentation of policy recommendations.

Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Coherence with other processes:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • What are the Impacts of offshore wind and marine renewable energy on European fisheries?

Implementation Context:

This study was prepared during the period June to August 2020 by the Thünen Institute of Sea Fisheries, Germany, on the basis of desk research consisting of a compilation and analysis of existing data, and a literature review.

Aspects / Objectives:

The aim of this study is to provide an overview of the general impacts of the development of offshore renewables (OR) on fisheries in European sea basins.


The research focusses on an in-depth spatial overlap analysis between the present-day fishing effort measurements by fleet and the current and future spatial expansion of OR in European seas based on Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data. Furthermore, it defines the concepts of coexistence, co-location and cooperation, and subsequently synthesised the lessons learnt from representative cases from the UK, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. A standardised literature review summarised the current knowledge on the impacts of OR on fisheries and to identify respective knowledge gaps.

Main Outputs / Results:

Key findings:

  • The exploitation of offshore renewable (OR) resources varies greatly in size and capacity across the different European sea basins, whereby the spatial expansion until 2025 will be greatest in the North Sea and Baltic Sea.
  • An overlap analysis of OR and fisheries suggests a sharp increase of spatial conflict potential in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, and Mediterranean over the next five years.
  • The current and future cumulative OR development mostly affects trawling fleets targeting mixed demersal species and crustaceans, whereas the composition of fishing effort varied greatly across fleets at individual planning sites.
  • Economic impact assessments of the OR effects on fisheries need to address the direct and indirect costs of lost fishing opportunities.
  • European-wide standardised monitoring programmes would provide ecological and socio-economic data, currently unavailable but which are needed to assess the general cumulative ecological and socio-economic effects of OR expansions.
  • A review of case studies suggested that early stakeholder consultation, the involvement of independent third parties, the creation of transparent guidelines, and compensation payments could alleviate the conflict potential between fisheries and OR.
  • An integrative framework is proposed to clarify and mitigate the effects of OR on fisheries, and to facilitate best practice guidance for marine spatial planning and the cooperation among marine users.


The results of this study can be transfered to any similar situation where there is a coexistence of fisheries and marine renewable energy.

Responsible Entity:

Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies, European Parliament