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Joint data collection / impact studies

Options for Cooperation between Commercial Fishery and Offshore Wind Energy Industries


Developer commissions studies for assessing potential fishery-specific impacts from wind farms, including protocol design and execution of before/after construction marine resource surveys. Developer may employ fishermen for conducting surveys.

Sea Basin(s): 
Nov 15
Application in MSP: 
Applied in an MSP process
Offshore renewable energy production
Type of Issue: 
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Analyse spatial aspects
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Common Fisheries Policy
Renewable Energy Directive
Trans-European Transport Network

Questions this practice may help answer

  • What are the key concerns of stakeholders, in relation to interactions between fisheries and offshore wind projects?
  • What best practice examples are there of understanding and managing interactions between fisheries and offshore wind farm developers?
  • What are the roles of key parties in addressing the interactions between offshore wind and fishing interests and how could / does this change through the planning process?

Implementation Context

Following growth in the sector worldwide, offshore wind development is now progressing in the U.S. with the first offshore wind pilot project (Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island) and three large leases awarded in federal waters off Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The proximity of these wind energy areas to major commercial fishing hubs is increasing attention on finding ways for the wind energy and fishing industries to successfully share ocean space.

The report, Options for Cooperation between Commercial Fishing and Offshore Wind Energy Industries: A Review of Relevant Tools and Best Practice, is intended to support constructive dialogue on these issues among industry, government and community leaders, and presents a compendium of best practices for addressing potential use conflicts and creating opportunities for cooperation. The analysis focussed on US and UK experience.

The report offers a problem solving framework that identifies five main categories of potential concerns and corresponding tools and practices for addressing them. This framework has been presented at the Massachusetts Fisheries Working Group on Offshore Renewable Energy in November 2015, where fishermen met for the first time with the three offshore wind developers holding leases in nearby waters. SeaPlan presented the framework and case examples of successful collaborations to support initial discussions among fishing interests, wind developers and state and federal officials.

In particular, joint data collection and impact studies were highlighted as a best practice in the “Options for Cooperation between Commercial Fishing and Offshore Wind Energy Industries: A Review of Relevant Tools and Best Practice” report.


Through the review undertaken by SeaPlan, it was identified that collaborative research delivered in co-operation between offshore wind farm developers, scientists, fishermen and other stakeholders was beneficial in addressing concerns among fishing interests, related to diminished economic opportunity and ecological resource impacts. These include, for example, wind farm developer commissioned studies for assessing potential fishery-specific impacts from wind farms, including fishermen participating in the design and execution of before-after-control-impact studies on local finfish and lobster populations and developer funded collaborative impact studies on species in and around wind farm sites.


Information was derived from literature review of experience at BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management), COWRIE (Collaborative Offshore Wind Research into the Environment) and the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan. A 2015 BOEM report suggests cooperative approaches for measuring impacts of wind farms on fisheries resources[1].  Case studies included the Neart Na Gaoithe Offshore Wind Farm and Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm (UK), and the Block Island Wind Farm (US). At least since 2009, the developer Vattenfall has engaged fishermen in conducting before/after construction surveys of fish and shellfish near the Kentish Flats Offshore Wind Farm in the UK


Aspects / Objectives

  • Evaluate the concerns of parties in relation to the interactions between offshore wind and fishing interests.
  • Identify best practices for addressing potential use conflicts and optimizing opportunities for mutual benefit.
  • Contribute to the knowledge base in addressing conflict and facilitating co-existence of marine users.

This paper is a compilation of potential and current best practices for addressing interactions and supporting successful cooperation between commercial fishing and offshore wind interests. It is intended, generally, to contribute to the growing knowledge base on this important topic and, specifically, to serve as a resource for discussions among industry and government parties in New England. Information for the paper was gathered from the United Kingdom—where the historically strong fishing industry and the offshore wind industry have a long track record of interactions—the Block Island Wind Farm, and other locations with relevant experience. The resulting compendium of best practices identifies a set of commonly-held concerns and offers corresponding tools and practices for addressing them.


To gather information for this project, SeaPlan drew from experience with the Block Island Wind Farm (Rhode Island), reviewed relevant literature and conducted informal interviews with knowledgeable industry and government parties. Subsequent analysis of the information led to an overarching framework for the paper.

Main Outputs / Results

Online report


While primarily focussed on the US with inclusion of some case studies from the UK, the report has broad relevance to the understanding and management of interactions between fishermen and offshore wind farm developers.


As highlighted in the report, while there are significant contextual differences to different planning regimes (political, social and economic context with regulatory authorities, local communities, ports, wind developers and affected commercial fishing groups each with particular interests and histories), certain consistencies were evident when looking across numerous examples of interactions between offshore wind and commercial fishing. Hence the problem solving framework outlined will have wide relevance.


In particular a number of general observations were made, including the importance of timely and effective communication (encompassing a range of activities, including engagement, consultation, coordination and information exchange), the utility of official documentation of protocols relating to coexistence, the role of fisheries’ liaisons / representatives, the effectiveness of mitigation strategies, among others.

Responsible Entity

Authors: Stephanie Moura, Andy Lipsky and Molly Morse of SeaPlan (

Costs / Funding Source

Island Foundation (

Contact Person

Stephanie Moura

Managing Partner


89 South Street, Boston, MA 02111

Tel: 857-263-3190


Margaret Petruny-Parker, Anna Malek, Michael Long, David Spencer, Fred Mattera, Emerson Hasbrouck, John Scotti, Kristen Gerbino, and Jacqueline Wilson, “Identifying Information Needs and Approaches for Assessing Potential Impacts of Offshore Wind Farm Development on Fisheries Resources in the Northeast Region,” U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Office of Renewable Energy Programs, (2015).  

“Kentish Flats Offshore Wind Farm: FEPA Monitoring Summary Report,” Vattenfall A/S (2009),