European fishing industry associations representing 2000 fishing vessels from Portugal to Sweden have written to MEPs to make clear their concerns about the future of the North Sea and wider coastal ecosystems, with both facing devastation if plans for a large-scale expansion of offshore wind generation go ahead.
Dutch, Swedish, German, Portuguese, Danish, Belgian and French fishermen’s organisations have presented their concerns to MEPs, pointing out that employment is threatened, with not only fishermen facing loss of livelihood, but this extends to fish processing plants, fish auctions, suppliers and other fisheries related companies.
‘We urge you to take our arguments seriously and we ask you to reconsider whether massive wind energy at sea is beneficial for the marine environment,’a spokesman for the grouping of fishermen’s organisations stated.
‘Fishermen are not against an energy transition. On the contrary. But the marine environment should not suffer from it. We are completely dependent on nature.’
The organisations are asking for a moratorium on further construction of wind farms and submarine electro-transport cables at sea, more research into the consequences of wind farms and the associated electrical transport cables on the marine environment, especially relating to seabed structure, flatfish, organisms, larvae and bacteria.
‘We want to see historical fishing grounds respected, a right to participate and to have input, and we expect that a precautionary approach should be applied to the development of wind farms,’ the organisations state.
‘Research into possible effects first, then placement. We demand that there is compliance with the OSPAR convention. This is being completely ignored.’
The point out that at present there is virtually no communication between the fishing and wind sectors.
The organisations state that the construction of windfarms is hugely damaging to the marine environment, with turbine piles with a diameter of 8-10 metres driven deep into the with a force of 3000kJ.
‘This is an enormous release of energy, far exceeding the legal standard of 160 decibels, killing fish and injuring fish over a wide radius. As a wind farm becomes operational, the turbines cause an infrasonic noise that propagates over great distances. This low noise chases the fish away from the wind farm areas,’ the group’s spokesperson said.
They state that the submarine cables linking turbines create electromagnetic fields, effectively creating artificial barriers that hinder naturals migration of fish, crustaceans and shellfish.
‘We observe this effect as fishermen constantly. We are also aware that windfarms alter sea and air currents change, and this has been confirmed by satellite imagery by NASA. Seabed sediment is dispersed, and dumping thousands of tonnes of rock are dumped inside and around the wind farms as a counter measure does not help.’
They comment that Environmental Impact Assessments) are inadequate, and the ecology and dynamics of the designated wind farms have not been properly mapped out – and fail to meet the EU guidelines.
‘These planned wind farms will be located precisely on spawning grounds which are important for many fish species. We are therefore concerned that entire fish populations will be destroyed – for the reasons we have set out.’