Economic and Socio-cultural implications of offshore wind on fishing communities

Research projects

Project Description:


The Project

Offshore wind (OSW) energy facilities have been operating in Europe for 20 years with large scale developments now also being progressed in North America. Existing knowledge of the impact of wind energy on fisheries is mainly focused on ecological and environmental impacts. There is limited understanding of how the development of OSW is affected by consideration and interactions with fisheries. As OSW energy expands, there is also a clear knowledge gap surrounding economic and socio-cultural impacts on fishing behaviour, fishing communities and coastal economies. In the North Sea, particularly, space is becoming limited and there is a need for greater understanding of the cumulative impacts of OSW developments on different fisheries at a local and seascape scales. Assessments of the wider socio-economic impacts of planning are crucial for sustainable co-location of OSW energy and fisheries.

Part of the costs to OSW developers relate to the licensing requirements and potential mitigation and/or compensation to fisheries. Different fisheries are at different stages of interaction with OSW developments and some fisheries have received financial compensation for loss of earnings and opportunities as a result of OSW. However, the impact of the requirement for compensation on the planning, construction and operational processes and decommissioning of OSW is poorly understood. A further knowledge gap is the impact of compensation by OSW developers on fisheries, as compensation can have both positive and negative effects. For example, previous research has shown that fishers have recognised benefits gained by one group of fishers might represent a cost to another group by simply displacing the problem elsewhere. It is becoming clear that displacement of fishing activity is also leading to fishers displaced onto already fished areas and there is some evidence to suggest that compensation is leading to fishers investing in more gear and larger vessels.

Aim: To better understand the economic and socio-cultural interactions between OSW and fisheries


  1. Identify the social and economic impacts of OSW on different fisheries
  2. Understand the perceptions of OSW developers of OSW and fisheries interactions
  3. Identify why and how compensation varies across different fisheries
  4. Identify the potential positive and negative impacts of compensation from OSW developments to fisheries.


Training and Skills

The student will receive training in NVivo, R and spatial mapping software to analyse and visualise large social science data sets. Further knowledge and skills will be developed through attending ICES Working Group Meetings (OSW Development & Fisheries) which the supervisory panel currently attend. This is new and exciting field of research and this project will provide the student with a deep understanding of both OSW and fisheries having applicability to careers in both of these industries. In addition the skills and knowledge are highly sought after by government, marine management organisations and academia, and are of both national and international interest.

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