The Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm is sited within highly productive fishing grounds for both lobster and crab. In planning the windfarm, local fishermen expressed concerns that construction could have a harmful effect upon local lobster and crab stocks and therefore affect their future livelihoods. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) predicted only minor impacts, and we supported a bespoke study with the aim of addressing any residual concerns.
The potentially affected fishermen belong to the Holderness Fishing Industry Group (HFIG). Founded in 2011 by East Yorkshire fishermen, HFIG aims to protect and promote the local crab and lobster fishery and to facilitate co-operation and coexistence with other marine sectors.
Long-term study on ecological effects
We are currently collaborating with HFIG and Hull University on a long-term study examining the potential ecological effects on shellfish associated with the construction and operation of the Westermost Rough wind farm. To carry out this research, we are using a dedicated survey vessel, the MV Huntress. The vessel is a unique venture, owned and operated by HFIG but crewed by a mix of professional scientists and experienced fishermen.
The data collected has been vital to ensuring the sustainability of this UK fishery and safeguarding the livelihoods of the hundreds of commercial fishers that depend on it. The windfarm study is the first of its kind to be conducted anywhere in the world and is proving to be of significant value in easing fishermen’s concerns about offshore wind development.
One aspect of this work was recently presented at a major international conference on lobster fisheries in Maine. The presentation talked about the potential for wind farms to have beneficial implications for the long-term management of shellfish stocks, by acting as quasi-marine protected areas. It has brought international attention to the work and its results, with particular interest being generated as a result of the positive collaboration between the fishing and offshore wind industries.
Feedback on survey
All Steering Group members agreed the survey was undertaken to a very high standard and many positive comments were made, a selection of which are detailed below:
“Fishermen can sometimes be sceptical of surveys, but not this one, as it was conducted under commercially realistic conditions”
Mike Cohen (CEO HFIG)
“There is shared ownership of the data and Ørsted should be congratulated”
Dr Magnus Johnson (University of Hull)
“This is a collaborative and innovative approach to survey design which uses the fishing community”
Mike Roach (HFIG researcher)
“The design of the survey by the Steering Group and the undertaking of the survey by the fishing industry with a Client Representative on board at all times is a “belt and braces” approach to ensuring credibility of the results”
Dr Julian Addison (Independent Shellfish expert)
“The approach used in this survey has helped with ‘trust building’ between the fishing industry and Ørsted and in the results that have been obtained”
Jamie Robertson (Mate of the Huntress)