Over the last ten years, the construction of offshore wind farms has taken place in shallow coastal areas throughout Europe. Many individuals and groups have been contracted to investigate possible impacts on marine mammals (notably harbour porpoise, harbour seal, and grey seal). This has involved a variety of methodologies - visual surveys by boat and plane, deployment of passive acoustic listening devices such as TPODs, land-based observations, and radio telemetry (see, for example, Koschinski et al., 2003; Tougaard et al., 2003a, b, 2005), and has resulted in some useful reviews (Lucke et al., 2006; Madsen et al., 2006; Thomson et al., 2006).
Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS) at their 5th Meeting (2006) called for further research to be conducted on the effects of wind farms on small cetaceans (Resolution 4). Accordingly, the aims of this workshop, jointly convened by ECS and ASCOBANS, were: 1) to examine the findings so far with respect to marine mammal impacts and assess possible effects at the construction and production phase; and 2) to recommend best practice for monitoring species in the vicinity, together with impacts. Some consideration was also given to other forms of renewable energy currently being considered by European governments, such as tidal power.
The workshop, held at the start of the 21st Annual ECS Conference in April 2007, was attended by c. 60 persons from 16 countries. There follows summaries of the information presented at the meeting, along with some general conclusions and specific recommendations arising from the discussions. In order to make this volume more complete, I have also invited Klaus Lucke to contribute a paper on auditory studies of harbour porpoises in relation to offshore wind turbines.
Sponsorship for the Proceedings comes from UNEP/ASCOBANS to whom we are very grateful, and I would like to thank Heidrun Frisch, Ana Berta García, and Marco Barbieri for their invaluable logistical support.