Offshore wind farms are proliferating around the world, and their presence is expected to expand substantially within US waters. Wind farm lifetimes involve 40–50-year commitments, including site surveys, construction, operation, and eventual decommissioning. Because their areas often overlap with essential fisheries habitats, there is a need to understand, mitigate, and manage offshore wind farm impacts on fisheries and ecosystems. Activities during all phases of wind farm lifetimes produce underwater sound, a concern because high noise levels and/or persistent anthropogenic noise can impact marine life in many ways. Here, we review the current understanding of impacts of wind energy activities on fisheries resources, taking into account the varied noise conditions that occur from site survey to decommissioning. For certain portions of wind farm development, such as construction and operation, there is a small amount of available data that allows stakeholders to evaluate impacts for at least some taxa. Yet, we are data deficient for most species’ populations, life stages, and other phases as they relate to wind farm development. Thus, it is difficult to evaluate impacts with any certainty, underscoring the need for further studies to adequately address impacts of offshore wind farms on vulnerable and ecologically and economically important taxa.
This article is part of Oceanography's Special Issue on Understanding the Effects of Offshore Wind Energy Development on Fisheries.