The launch of the ScotWind leasing round in 2020 by Crown Estate Scotland marked the beginning of the leasing and development process for large scale bottom-fixed and floating offshore wind (FOW) in Scotland. The areas of seabed available for development have been identified through an extensive and iterative consultation process, as outlined in the Scottish Government’s Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind. Although this process has undoubtedly anticipated and mitigated a range of possible sectoral conflicts, there nevertheless remains the potential for future offshore wind developments in Scotland to have some form of impact on the fishing industry. Further, given FOW technology’s early commercial status, the exact nature of its impact on fishing is currently unclear.
With this in mind, the Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence (FOW CoE) launched the Floating Offshore Wind and Fishing Interaction Roadmap project, or FOW-Fishing Interaction project, in November 2020. The aim was to facilitate a stakeholder engagement process that would identify potential interactions between the Scottish fishing sector and future commercial FOW farms, and to assess the associated challenges and potential opportunities. The project’s principal objective was to develop a roadmap outlining a portfolio of activities which, if carried out in a timely manner, could deliver benefits that coincide with commercial-scale FOW deployment over the course of the next decade, and would support constructive engagement between the two sectors both throughout this period and beyond.
The findings of the FOW-Fishing Interaction project are set out within this document. The purpose of this roadmap is to: (a) outline the stakeholder engagement process undertaken during the course of the project (Sections 1 and 2); (b) identify and prioritise a list of potential interactions between the FOW and fishing industries in Scotland (Section 3); and (c) propose a timeline of further activities and research intended to mitigate the potential risks and exploit the opportunities associated with these interactions (Section 4).
Throughout this roadmap, the term “interaction” is used to reflect any potential interface between the FOW and fishing industries that could result in some form of impact, either positive or negative. A number of key considerations should be borne in mind when assessing these interactions, and when reviewing the roadmap in general:
- Each interaction has been identified on a hypothetical basis by the project’s stakeholder participants. Given the FOW industry’s early commercial status, it remains to be seen whether a given interaction will be borne out in practice as the industry commercialises;
- The interactions were prioritised based on the input of a broad range of stakeholder organisations. These include fishermen’s federations and associations, FOW farm developers, marine management organisations, seabed leasing authorities, and navigational safety groups. Where an interaction has been marked as high priority, this indicates a general consensus across these stakeholder organisations, but does not necessarily imply a unanimous agreement;
- Where an interaction has been marked as high priority, this may reflect: the potential impact of its occurrence; the perceived likelihood of its potential occurrence; and/or the ability of key stakeholders to intervene in order to mitigate the associated challenges or exploit an opportunity;
- On an individual level, each interaction is considered to be possible in principle. However, in certain cases, the occurrence of one interaction would impact the likelihood of another taking place. With this in mind, each interaction has been addressed within this roadmap on a case-by-case basis;
- Due to the lack of technology distinction between the static (i.e. buried) section of FOW and bottomfixed offshore wind farm export cables, this FOW farm subsystem was excluded from the project’s scope from the outset.
In disseminating the outputs of the FOW-Fishing Interaction project by way of this roadmap, the FOW CoE intends to deliver an accessible reference document that maps the key risks and opportunities associated with FOW and fishing industry interactions in Scotland. The ambition is that this resource will provide a foundation for coordinating a programme of further activities that address these risks and opportunities and will ultimately help to support collaborative relationships between the two industries over the course of the next decade and beyond.