Seabirds face a wide range of anthropogenic threats and, increasingly, compete with other marine users for resources. The Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) industry is a relatively recent, but rapidly growing, exploiter of coastal and offshore waters around the world. Offshore wind farms and, to a lesser extent, wet MRE technology (e.g., hydro turbines and attenuators) provide important sustainable sources of energy. However, MRE projects may have negative and positive effects on seabirds, such as causing displacement, fragmenting or creating habitat, posing a collision threat and affecting prey resources.
This chapter provides an overview of the MRE industry, possible effects on seabirds and the roles of planning, monitoring, mitigation and compensation are considered. Whilst our understanding of project-level and cumulative effects has developed rapidly with the industry, significant gaps in knowledge remain. The industry is continuing to evolve, with offshore wind farms moving into deeper water, wet MRE technology developing and new geographic areas are beginning to be exploited. Further targeted monitoring and research are needed to ensure the MRE industry can continue to grow whilst safeguarding important seabird populations.