Co-location of fisheries and offshore wind farms: Current practices and enabling conditions in the North Sea

Bonsu, Prince Owusu; Letschert, Jonas; Yates, Katherine L.; Svendsen, Jon C.; Berkenhagen, Jörg; Rozemeijer, Marcel J.C.; Kerkhove, Thomas R.H.; Rehren, Jennifer; Stelzenmüller, Vanessa


Current expansion in offshore wind farm (OWF) development is resulting in increased spatial conflicts with other uses. In the North Sea, marine spatial planning (MSP) processes include co-existence strategies, with co-location between fisheries and offshore wind farms often discussed. However, current legal regulations and the lack of adequate scientific evidence to document economic viability of proposed passive gears, coupled with uncertainties regarding the implementation approach, continue to limit progress in developing co-location solutions. We synthesized current regulations and practices relevant to offshore wind farms and fisheries and conducted spatial-temporal overlap analysis of pot and trap fisheries targeting crustaceans in offshore wind farms to understand their potential for co-location. Our results showed the largest potential for co-location of pot and trap fisheries targeting crustaceans is located in OWFs that already exist or will be constructed until 2030. We also identified 1) gaps in fisheries and (OWF) regulations and 2) sector challenges that hindered the successful implementation of fisheries and offshore wind farm co-location. We discuss and recommend enabling conditions, including more science-based evidence on socio-economic and ecological viability of passive fisheries in offshore areas. Experiments on pot and trap gear safety and spillover evidence of artificial reef effects (AREs) are needed to inform the implementation of new safety distances and economically beneficial passive fisheries. Finally, we highlight needs for new insurance regimes and straightforward funding provision to support transitions to co-location and absorb the shocks from mobile fisheries displacement.