Offshore wind installations for electrical generation

Offshore wind installations for electrical generation

More and more countries are developing offshore wind installations for electrical generation. Some already have installed large numbers of turbines. The existing and proposed installations often overlap with existing commercial fisheries. In some regions, the fishing industry has expressed concern that fishing will be completely displaced due to several concerns, primarily involving safety and mobile gears. The installations will also interfere with the monitoring of fish resources by impairing trawl-based resource surveys.

Mike Pol is interested in a closer examination of several topics related to the accessibility of wind farms for commercial fishing and for surveys. His interest was spurred because he was asked to create scaled drawings of mobile gears within a wind farm (see an example in Figure 1), and he was surprised at the relative size of the gear, as well as a lack of relevant literature.

He thinks would be interesting to:

  • Investigate potential for the safe operation of otter trawls within a wind farm based on improved knowledge and modelling of movement and behaviour of doors, nets, and cables.
  • Investigate potential adjustments to design parameters of wind installations (particularly floating turbines) to improve accessibility to fishing
  • Investigate current adaptations by commercial fleets and stock surveys to installed wind farms
  • Understand the potential for the development of alternative exploitation methods
  • Understand the potential for the development of alternative survey approaches.

At an informal discussion after the Annual Meeting of WGFTFB recently, Mike Pol was pleasantly surprised to find several of the WG members are similarly interested. It was suggested a blog post on the WGFTFB website would be a good way to inspire a discussion that could lead to a topic group or similar effort.

He would be interested in any and all feedback.

Figure 1. A scale model drawing of an 87 ft vessel towing an otter trawl within the footprint of a 1 nm x 1 nm wind farm.

13 replies
  1. Antonello Sala
    Antonello Sala says:

    Hello Mike, I created the blog for you. It is the first blog on our website, let’s see if members share their thoughts here…cheers, Anto

  2. Ben Collier
    Ben Collier says:

    Thank you Anto and Mike,

    This is useful. I manage the gear technology work for industry in Northern Ireland and offshore renewables are becoming a hot topic in the Irish Sea. We recently responded to the consultation on the UK Draft Joint Fisheries Statement and expressed our concerns over the potential displacement and condensing of the nephrops fleet into a smaller area as a result of windfarm developments. It is unclear to us what effect this may have on bycatch rates of <MCRS whiting if there is a high incidence of this species during a fishing trip and there are limited areas for the vessels to move on to. Our vessels fish with twin-rig and quad-rig gears and don't feel that it will be viable to fish in and around turbines, fixed or floating. Thanks.

  3. Craig S. Rose
    Craig S. Rose says:

    Because I have been following a very active industry organization for trawlers that fish off of Oregon, I have been tracking reactions to the establishment of several ‘call areas’ off of the Oregon coast that include substantial overlap with the Pacific hake fishery (e.g.,
    The principal complaint is that there has been little, if any, engagement from the lead agency, BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) or the wind energy industry with the fishing industry to specifically explore how fishing will be restricted or to find ways that the two industries might coexist. I would be very interested in any available information on the specifics of how wind installations are configured and how that interacts with mobile fishing methods. I realize that the US west-coast is early in the process, but am interested in how we might take advantage of experiences from areas further along in the process. Development of mutual solutions would require engagement early enough to be relevant to the approval process. Otherwise, the assessment will just say such middle-groud solutions do not exist, limiting consideration to zero-sum alternatives. The fishing industry here is already digging in and entering a state of resistance similar to what members of our group have experienced with fishing innovations when early engagement did not occur.

    • Mike Pol
      Mike Pol says:

      Hi, Craig:

      For floating wind, the design parameters are still in development (as I understand it). In fact, I’m on a proposal that brings together fishermen and floating wind engineer to see if accommodation can be made to floating wind designs to encourage co-existence. Waiting to hear if it will get funded.

      • Craig S. Rose
        Craig S. Rose says:

        Thanks, Mike
        Do you have links or diagrams showing the footprints of individual towers for floating or other configurations? It seems as though the anchor spread necessary for floating rigs would be much bigger than seafloor-based tower (or do those towers require anchor arrays as well (expect that depends on depth)?
        Your proposal seems like a reasonable and needed approach – hope that it gets funded.

  4. Jeff Gearhart
    Jeff Gearhart says:

    Thank you Mike. This will be a great resource. I look forward to the discussions here.

  5. Anne Christine Utne Palm
    Anne Christine Utne Palm says:

    At IMR we are leading an ongoing 13 months project on coexistence between offshore windfarm – and fishing industry. We/I would be very interested in participating in discussions and maybe a topic group on this topic. Here is some more information about our project:

    The project is called: Acquisition of knowledge for Coexistence between the fishing and offshore wind industry.
    It is funded by the FHF – Norwegian Seafood Research Fund.
    The main goal of the project is to give an overview of existing knowledge of the effects and consequences of offshore wind farm industry might have on the Norwegian fishing industry. To reach this goal we will:
    1) Compile the existing knowledge about environmental effects and consequences of offshore wind for the fishing industry – and unveil knowledge gaps.
    2) Obtain knowledge and experience from the fishing industry – by interviewing people in the industry (fishers)
    3) Investigate the extent to which the establishment of offshore wind takes place in close collaboration with the fishing industry as intended. It is the government’s intention to establish offshore windfarms in a dialog with the fishing industry, but this is not how the fishing industry has experienced the process.

    This is primarily a desktop study except for interviews with fishing industry, and organisation of seminars were the involved parts can meet and shear knowledge and concerns to better the coexistence.

  6. Junita D. Karlsen
    Junita D. Karlsen says:

    My experience when collecting fish for a tagging study inside a wind mill farm in Denmark using gill nets, is that the energy company was very particular about the security of their cables and any influence the fishing activity may have on their maintenance activities (e.g., temporarily blocking access for their vessels). The use of towed gears inside the wind farm was totally out of the question and even the use of small anchors for gillnets needed careful consideration with respect to the what areas inside the wind farm they could be deployed. Therefore, I would not expect that there would be any “safe operations for otter trawls within a wind farm” that would be acceptable for the energy company running the wind farm.
    For this reason, when raising new wind mills at sea, the area chosen is critical as fishery activities in the same area should not be expected to be allowed.

  7. Esther Savina
    Esther Savina says:


    I have been working on how to design fishing friendly offshore wind farms for several years, and am very pleased to see the topic coming into the gear technologists’ focus.

    I agree with previous comments that careful spatial planning is the first key step to best accommodate for co-activities. The technological development of bigger turbines is necessarily forcing the distance between turbines to be larger and larger to limit the wake effect, reaching about a km distance in the ongoing project developments, and there are several technical solutions to protect the cable if it cannot be buried. If the offshore wind developer is concerned about the good operation and maintenance conditions and insurance issues which might reduce opportunities to be allowed to fish in the farm, it is however my experience that the authorization to fish in the farm in safety is highly dependent on the national legislations. For example, the bottom installed wind farms currently under construction in France were specifically designed to allow for commercial fishing to continue by e.g. aligning wind turbines and cables with the current (and fishing) direction in concertation with the fishermen organization and the maritime administration. It is of course more challenging to accommodate for the floating turbines, which cannot necessarily be aligned with the current direction for example, but I can see how gear technologists take on what would be a minimum requirement for co-activity would be of value, especially in the context of a very fast technical development of floating solutions. I agree with Mike that a necessary first step is to investigate potential for the safe operation of the different gears with respect to collision and hooking risk when operating the different gears.

    It is also my experience that technical potential for co-activity does not always mean that the fishers will ultimately use the chance to fish in the farm : the fishermen organization might be reluctant to organize for operational rules of use, e.g., maximum allowed of fishers using a passive gear in a line of turbines, or fishers may fear additional threat to safety such as in bad weather for example.

    Regarding the effect on stock surveys, I would draw your attention to the ongoing work of the ICES WGOWDF Tor B.

    Best regards,

  8. Mike Pol
    Mike Pol says:

    Thank you for all the good responses and discussion on this thread. I feel I should let you know that I do not intend to pursue this subject as a topic group, for two reasons. The first is that I have too many responsibilities currently and cannot take on another. The second is that Esther Savina is moving forward on a similar topic via a different channel. I am glad to see Esther’s efforts and will participate in that one to the extent possible.

    Best regards,



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