Impact of offshore wind farms on fisheries

Impact of offshore wind farms on fisheries

On 3 November 2020, Greek Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Theodoros Zagorakis of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:

“One of the conclusions of a recent study presented to the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries was that there is a lack of adequate data on the impact of offshore wind farms on fishing activities.

In view of the fact that support of European fisheries is a priority for the EU and given that investments in clean forms of energy, such as offshore wind farms, are desirable in order to achieve climate change goals:

1. How does the Commission plan to help Member States with regard to maritime spatial planning?

2. What data does it have on the impact of offshore wind farms on fisheries?

3. Does it plan to compensate fishermen in the event that offshore wind farm facilities result in them losing income?”

On 2 February 2021, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “           The Commission has been supporting Member States in the preparation of their national plans since the adoption of the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) Directive in 2014. An assistance mechanism provides Member States with technical assistance and runs the MSP platform, a repository for all studies, guidance documents and best practices on MSP.

Concerning the impacts of offshore wind farms on fisheries, the Commission has financed several studies on the topic. A background study with some recommendations for Member States is available on the MSP platform online and an ongoing study on windfarms effects on fisheries and aquaculture will be available in spring 2021.

It will complement the results of the study commissioned by the European Parliament. Further, the Commission emphasises coexistence with other activities, such as fisheries in its recent strategy for offshore renewable energy, while recognising that data and knowledge gaps exist.

Early engagement with stakeholders and local communities is an integrated part of the MSP process. In a number of projects and Member States it has lead offshore wind developers to adapt their plans and assess economic impacts, including possible loss of income for fishermen.

Some navigation corridors are being established in several wind farm projects and fishing vessels of less than 24 metres with non-towed gears are today allowed in most offshore wind farms. Practices related to direct compensation of fishermen vary between Member States and projects.”


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