Building sustainable relationships with people in the fishing industry
Building sustainable relationships with fishers and other marine users is critical to our work. We endeavour to ensure local fisheries are not adversely impacted by the construction of our projects. National legislation differs across markets and the way we approach fisheries depends on the national scope.
That’s why we tailor our approach to the local context and engage commercial and recreational fishers as early as possible.
We seek to fully explore the impacts of our new offshore wind projects on local fishing communities and engage their specialist knowledge. Fisheries are invited into our project planning through a series of community meetings, and we employ local fishing industry representatives to ensure effective communication and collaboration throughout the development, construction, and operational phases of our projects.
We have already implemented several initiatives based on fisheries’ input, including:
- Layout changes on projects
- Changes to cable routes & landings
- Fair and straightforward gear claim process
- Mariners Briefings
- Hiring commercial fishing vessels as safety and research vessels
- On-board fisheries representatives on our vessels
- Shared operations and maintenance facilities
Actively supporting fishing communities
As well as ensuring the people in the fishing industry are not adversely impacted by our activities, we also contribute to fishing groups. In the UK, for example, we have donated more than £850,000 to the not-for-profit West of Morecombe Fisheries, which manages funding for fishing community projects. So far, the independently managed fund has benefitted a wide range of UK fisher groups, providing people from the fishing industry with safety equipment, ice machines and processing equipment, as well as funding of safety training for the industry.
We also want to make it as easy as possible for fishing communities to fish in our offshore wind farms. Currently, US mariners do not have easily accessible tools which would help them in navigating through commercial-scale offshore wind farms. That’s why we have supported the Maritime Institute of Technology & Graduate Studies (MITAGS) in the US to create a virtual offshore wind farm navigation simulator for mariners. The simulator allows mariners to experience piloting through a virtual simulation of our Ocean Wind and Revolution Wind projects off the coast of southern New Jersey.
Staying accessible and available to marine users
We value our relationships with fishing communities, and we are always open to their questions and concerns. That starts with being transparent and informing marine users about our activities in advance. We regularly post Mariners Briefings for our US sites, which are issued to the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the Fisheries Liaison. Briefings include details of current operational activities at the wind farm, where we are working, information about the vessels being used, as well as future outlooks. We have also created an online stakeholder survey and virtual port hours to stay accessible to local fisheries.
Investigating our impact on fish and crustacean stocks
We are always diligent when planning new projects and appreciate the unique ocean environment at each of our sites. That can involve conducting new research to investigate the effects of fishing near our sites, as in the case of our Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm in the UK.
In collaboration with Holderness Fishing Industry Group (HFIG), we developed a bespoke and comprehensive long-term study examining potential effects on shellfish that might be associated with the construction and operation of the wind farm – the first study of its kind to be conducted anywhere in the world. The results indicated that there are no observable differences in the size distribution or catch rates of lobsters, supporting consistent economic return for fishers with no observable effects of concern on the edible crab population.
We have since been working with HFIG to establish the Yorkshire Marine Research Centre, a state-of-the-art community laboratory and research hatchery based in Bridlington in the UK. The Centre will seek to better understand the marine habitats of native species and the interaction between offshore wind on the fishing industry. Upon completion of the various studies, healthy juvenile shellfish will be released back into the sea, acting as a form of stock enhancement.
Having HFIG to represent the voice of a unified group of people from the fishing industry has proved to be invaluable for both of our industries, and we continue to work both with HFIG and the fishers they represent to better understand how we can continue to work and thrive together.