In the next 10–20 years, thousands of wind turbines will be present in the North Sea. In this paper, we investigate the impact of these windmill artificial reefs (WARs) on the ecology of benthopelagic fish. More specifically we will try to resolve the attraction-ecological trap-production issue for Atlantic cod and pouting at WARs and link the information to opportunities for fisheries activities. From 2009 until 2012 the behavioural ecology of Atlantic cod and pouting was investigated at WARs in the Belgian part of the North Sea (BPNS). Information on lengthfrequency distribution, diet, community structure and movements were combined to gain insights on the behavioural ecology and to unravel whether production occurs. We demonstrated that specific age groups of Atlantic cod and pouting are seasonally attracted towards the WARs, that they show high site fidelity and feed upon the dominant epifaunal prey species present. Growth was observed throughout the period the fishes were present. Production on a local scale can be assumed. On a regional scale however, no changes were observed yet. Based on the acquired knowledge we judged that no fisheries activities should be allowed inside the offshore wind farms in the BPNS.
The Ecology of Benthopelagic Fishes at Offshore Wind Farms: A Synthesis of 4 Years of Research
Title: The Ecology of Benthopelagic Fishes at Offshore Wind Farms: A Synthesis of 4 Years of Research
January 04, 2014
Reubens, J.; Degraer, S.; Vincx, M. (2014). The Ecology of Benthopelagic Fishes at Offshore Wind Farms: A Synthesis of 4 Years of Research. Hydrobiologia, 727, 121-136.