The UK government actively supports the development of renewable energy sources, with offshore wind farms (OWF) being its’ primary focus. The Holderness Coast fishery, in the North East coast of the England, is situated in an area of significant OWF construction. This study focused on the Westermost Rough OWF development. It aimed to contribute to an attempt to address deficiencies in the current state of knowledge of the effects of OWFs on fish and shellfish populations, by providing a baseline of pre-construction data. The survey was designed to accurately model local fishing practices and to avoid the shortcomings of some other OWF monitoring programs, by employing “treatment” (physically affected by construction activity) and “control” (undisturbed) sampling locations. Four fleets of lobster pots were used to collect samples. One treatment fleet was deployed on the planned cable route and a second in the turbine array site. A control fleet was positioned at least 1000m to the North of each treatment fleet, outside of the planned construction location. Each fleet was hauled approximately every 3 days, between July and September 2013. Sex, abundance, size, condition and ovigerous status of individuals of the key commercial species Homarus gammarus, Cancer pagurus and Necora puber were recorded for the entire catch. There were few differences between the treatment and control fleets. Size and abundance varied between sexes and between the inshore and offshore areas, with lager animals predominantly located offshore. Lobsters showed a high abundance of individuals that were healthy or soft shelled; whilst edible crab had a high abundance of individuals with ‘Black Spot Disease’. The fishery within Westermost Rough focuses on the abundant, high value lobster, while there is a larger, but diseased and therefore lower value edible crab population. The study provided a highly detailed baseline data set, which will enable direct comparison to postconstruction monitoring. It is to be hoped that this will support the already productive relationship between OWF developers and the fishing industry. The minutes from a steering group meeting discussing the results, quality and future monitoring are included.
Daily Progress Reports