A workshop was recently held for the COWRIE-funded project investigating options to mitigate the potential impact of offshore windfarms on commercial fishing activities. The aim of the workshop was to develop and review a list of possible mitigation options, and it was attended by representatives of the NFFO, NUTFA, SAGB and SFF, as well as by a small number of independent fishermen and representatives of COWRIE, the British Wind Energy Association and statutory bodies.
A number of key points were made from the start, including that fishermen considered loss of access to grounds to be the most significant negative impact of windfarms, while the main potential benefit was considered to be the creation of new habitat for target species and any new fishing opportunities that may develop as a result. Very early consultation between developers and fishermen was highlighted as being an important starting point for any discussions.
Workshop attendees supported the project aim of producing a mitigation options ‘toolbox’ for fishermen and developers to use when discussing the possible impacts of any new offshore windfarms. Mitigation options then proposed included micro-siting turbines to avoid obstructing favoured tows, using hatchery seed to enhance fished stocks, and supporting the establishment of small biodiesel production facilities. Four general themes were identified for the full list: a) pre-development options, b) options to enhance habitats and species, c) options to support existing fisheries, and d) options to develop new fisheries or other opportunities.