The Study Group on the Environmental Impacts of Wave and Tidal Energy (Chair: Michael Bell, UK) met for the first time in Edinburgh, UK, 29–31 March 2011. The meeting was attended by eight participants from Ireland, Portugal, Sweden and the UK (Scotland and England). The wave and tidal energy industry is developing rap-idly and there are great aspirations for it to contribute to meeting global energy demands. The industry is a relative newcomer to the marine environment must co-exist with many other sea-users and stakeholders such as fisheries, nature conservation and shipping. SGWTE is convened as a new group to focus on the potential for wave and tidal energy developments to have consequences for the environment and other sea-users.
Given the nascent state of the industry, there are few direct observations from which to judge the nature and scale of any impacts. However, a number of recent reviews have identified the issues of greatest potential importance, and in 2010 ICES issued advice to OSPAR on the environmental interactions of wave and tidal energy devices. Much research is currently underway aiming to improve our understanding of po-tential impacts and to improve the information base for decision-making about future developments. SGWTE focused its attention on current research and has provided a preliminary collation of ongoing and planned research activities as well as of the state of development of the wave and tidal industry in ICES nations. The intention, as this exercise continues and is extended, is to provide improved access to new research findings, integrating these into an overall framework of information to support planning and management of wave and tidal energy activities and identifying research gaps currently hindering such planning and management. SGWTE members agreed unanimously that identifying and highlighting research gaps is the most important activity for the group. Future activities of SGWTE will include refining and updating this list of research gaps, and hopefully moving topic from the list of gaps to the lists of ongoing research activities and their outputs.