Windfarms and Fishing

We’ve commissioned a study investigating the consequences for the fishing industry of offshore wind farms.

Fishing boat heading towards offshore wind farm

The first phase of the study, carried out by the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations (NFFO), focused on an area of the Eastern Irish Sea where six offshore wind farms have been constructed in recent years. The aim was to establish whether fishing activity has changed in the area and, if so, why and to what extent.

The initial findings suggest that whilst fishing activity in the area and associated landings have reduced since 2000, this is primarily because of factors such as changes in the Total Allowable Catch (TAC). Whilst there is an indication of reduction in prawn trawling around one wind farm, a major factor seems to be perceived risks of fishing gear becoming trapped by seabed obstacles, and fear about vessels breaking down and colliding with turbines. However, the fishing and offshore wind industries are increasingly learning how to co-exist. Offshore wind farm operators and the fishing industry have suggested a range of measures that could increase co-existence in the future.

The phase one findings were presented and discussed at RenewableUK’s Global Offshore Wind 2015 conference, through an event chaired by The Crown Estate’s Chief Scientist, Prof. Mike Cowling. This discussion and input from the Fishing Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables Group (FLOWW) helped shape the second phase, which is examining similar issues in the Greater Thames and Wash areas. The report from the second phase is expected to be published in late 2016.

Further information

Phase One Report