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Report on the impact on the fishing sector of offshore wind farms and other renewable energy systems

In Europe, the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Atlantic hold more than 85 percent of existing offshore wind capacity. In total there are now 110 offshore wind facilities with over 5000 wind turbines in European waters representing 12,000 MW. Under EU-27, the European Commission expects at least 60,000 MW of operating offshore wind by 2030 and up to 300,000 GW in 2050. In this document recently adopted by the European Parliament, there is a clear recognition of land-use conflicts arising from energy development offshore particularly with regard to fishing. The member states lay out the risks and demands for more research and stress that offshore wind facilities "should only be built if the exclusion of negative environmental and ecological, as well as economic, socio-economic and socio-cultural impacts on fishers and aquaculture producers is guaranteed" and urges Member States to "continue working on the development and usage of other forms of renewable energy." A portion of the document is provided be low. The full document can be accessed at the document links on this page.

1. Highlights the need to avoid the potential negative long-term impact caused by offshore wind turbines on certain ecosystems, fish stocks and biodiversity, and consequently on fisheries as a whole; emphasises the need for a life-cycle approach to their development, from construction through operation and decommissioning, hence the importance of rigorous and detailed studies to assess the impacts of existing offshore wind turbines;

2. Emphasises that offshore renewable energy should be deployed in such a way as to create opportunities for other activities, through an environmental, social and economic co-benefits approach, ensuring benefits for fishers and local communities; 

3. Warns that offshore renewable energy will only be sustainable if it has no negative impact on the environment and on economic, social and territorial cohesion, especially in fisheries-dependent regions;

4. Is concerned about the lack of research into the decommissioning of offshore wind turbines and into the effects of decommissioning on the environment;

5. Reaffirms that it remains the competence of a Member State to decide on its national energy mix and technologies;

6. Emphasises that renewable energy and energy efficiency are among the key drivers for reaching a net zero-emissions economy; highlights that in order to meet the 2030 renewable energy target, offshore renewable electricity infrastructure capacity and production need to be increased accordingly;

7. Highlights the important potential of renewable hydrogen, including from wind and solar energy, in reaching the Union’s climate neutrality objective;

8. Stresses that floating wind farms have the potential to be developed in deep water areas, which expands the viable zone for wind energy development while reducing its visibility from shore; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States to support the upscaling and commercialisation of sustainable floating offshore wind technology that further reduces the impact on fisheries;

9. Stresses the need to minimise the risk of the large-scale roll-out of OWFs affecting the physical functioning of the sea basin, in particular sea and air currents, which might contribute to a mixing of the stratified water column and consequently influence the nutrient cycle, wave generation, tidal amplitudes and bedload sediment transport, and that the effects of these must be closely monitored, while infrasonic noise from rotating blades could repel fish, as well as marine mammal species, from OWFs, and electromagnetic fields from underwater cables, as well as underwater noise from pile driving, could have severe negative impacts on crustaceans and marine life; stresses in this regard the need for further development and research into how to avoid and mitigate these negative effects;

10. Notes the importance of implementing best practices in terms of minimising disruption and mitigating damage to ecosystems in the planning, operational and decommissioning stages of offshore activity; 

11. Takes the view that the installation of marine renewable energy production units must be incorporated into and respond to the development strategies and energy sovereignty of each state while being consistent with the objectives of the European Green Deal; 

12. Highlights the importance of taking the morphological and geographical characteristics of the areas in which OWFs are to be established into account; 

13. Takes the view that decisions to install offshore renewable energy production infrastructure should be based on the best scientific assessments of the associated impacts and involve all stakeholders in the  exploitation of the areas to be occupied, in particular the associated fishing communities and their organisations; 

14. Stresses the need to investigate the potential effects, such as artificial reef effects of offshore renewable systems, on marine life and fisheries, which could be limited to the operational phase and to examine how decommissioning can be carried out in such a way that its benefits might not be temporary; underlines that when OWFs are decommissioned, the sites need to be left in a state that allows fishing activities if they had been allowed before construction or during the operational phase, and that protects and respects the environment; 

15. Points out the need to consider the characteristics of the seabed when deploying OFWs so as not to build infrastructure where it would risk altering the local habitat and ecosystem;

16. Proposes to assess the combination and integration of OWFs within marine protected areas (MPAs) against clearly defined habitat and biodiversity conservation objectives, including those pertaining to fisheries resources; underlines that management committees should be set up in these MPAs in order to achieve better coexistence of activities, and that approval by the relevant competent authority in charge of the MPAs
must be given;

17. Stresses that OWFs should, whenever possible, be placed in zones where fishing is not permitted, in order to minimise negative impacts on the fishing industry; 

18. States that OWFs can have an impact on fisheries by changing the spatial distribution and abundance of commercially fished marine species as well as through their closure for safety reasons or the imposition of a change in fishing activity or method, for example from active to passive;

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42. Calls on Member States, as the competent authority on maritime spatial planning, in the context of their continued work and subsequent revisions of national maritime spatial plans, to take into account the need to ensure that the negative effects of offshore wind turbines on fisheries are avoided and that they are therefore placed away from fishing grounds;

43. Promotes the application of an ecosystem-based approach in maritime spatial planning, with the intention of providing a systems-based framework for understanding and managing marine ecosystems and their interaction with socio-economic activities; 

44. Highlights the importance of community energy production schemes which allow coastal communities and cooperatives, including fishers, to generate their own electricity and reinvest profits back into the  community; 

45. Stresses that OWFs should only be built if the exclusion of negative environmental and ecological, as well as economic, socio-economic and socio-cultural impacts on fishers and aquaculture producers is guaranteed, in line with the objectives of the Blue Economy and the European Green Deal; 

46. Urges the Member States to take into account the impact of offshore renewable energy on the marine ecosystem and fisheries when determining their energy mix; 

47. Urges the Member States also to continue working on the development and usage of  Calls on the Commission to carry out an impact assessment to examine the expected economic, social and environmental consequences of constructing OWF facilities where they are likely to come into conflict with both the fishing sector and the sustainability of marine life;

49. Stresses that cooperation across the sectors active in the offshore environment and economy will also be a driver for a just transition; calls on the Commission to assess initiatives that stimulate local economies and economic activities offshore and to find synergies between sectors that can serve as a basis for a future-proof economic recovery;

50. Highlights that examples of coexistence between the fishing sector and the offshore wind energy sector already exist, and that this experience should be used to find and share the best available practices for the whole life cycle of marine infrastructure; 

51. Stresses that stakeholders should have a right to participate and have a say in maritime spatial planning; 

52. Stresses that early, equitable, effective and continuous stakeholder consultation and participation, notably of fishers and aquaculture producers, the creation of transparent guidelines and the payment of compensation could alleviate the potential for conflict and create a level playing field between fisheries and offshore renewables;

53. Calls for the EU to promote and support OWF in its external action, in particular with third countries where access to energy remains uneven and limited, in line with the Green Deal’s objectives;

54. Emphasises that the precautionary principle, in accordance with Article 191(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, should apply if decisions have to be taken before the required knowledge or information is available;

55. Notes that further measures at EU level might be required, including legislation, given that evidence suggests that Member States’ maritime spatial planning does not guarantee the fair inclusion of fishers and other stakeholders and, where appropriate, compensation for fisheries;

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Source: https://www.europarl.europa...

JUN 1 2021
https://www.windaction.org/posts/52586-report-on-the-impact-on-the-fishing-sector-of-offshore-wind-farms-and-other-renewable-energy-systems
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