The 2014 annual meeting of the Working Group on Marine Benthal and Renewable Energy developments was attended by 19 experts, representing nine countries (Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Netherlands) and was held in Tallinn, Estonia during March. The meeting was co-chaired by Jennifer Dannheim (Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany) and Andrew B. Gill (Cranfield University, United Kingdom). As in the previous year, the terms of references were summarised in three thematic sub-groups: (A) The ‘knowledge group’ (ToR A, E) will evaluate and review existing knowledge on the effects of offshore renewable constructions and related topics (e.g. artificial reefs). (B) The ‘monitoring group’ (ToR B, F) will review and evaluate sampling techniques the scientific efficiency of ongoing monitoring programmes of offshore renewable construction projects by identifying knowledge gaps and simplifying future standardised research. (C) The ‘metadatabase group’ (ToR C, D) will develop a database of metadata that will help to cross-foster research and target monitoring, as well as future modelling approaches.
Two main themes were the focus of activity during the meeting, namely the knowledge and monitoring themes, which address the TORs A, B , E and F. Significant progress on both these topics was made particularly in relation to formulating publications. The monitoring group is looking to submit a paper early in 2015 and have a plan of activities between sessions to meet this time schedule. The knowledge group has a task list and is on target to have a draft paper for discussion by the next WGMBRED meeting in 2015. For the metadatabase theme, a decision was made to link with the existing Tethys Annex IV database via a dedicated webpage for WGMBRED hosted on the Tethys database. The links and WG member sign up will take place intersessionally.
In addition to the three main themes and the ToRs the WG discussed the importance of scale issues and cumulative impacts, in general and in relation to current knowledge on effects of offshore renewable devices on the benthal ecosystems and monitoring strategies. These two topics are considered very important in the topic area at the moment hence the need for the WG to ensure that it keeps its activities re levant to current knowledge.
Several talks and posters at international conferences were presented with a number of WGMBRED members contributing to them. A viewpoint article has also been submitted to the journal Hydrobiologia for a special issue on wind farms and environment.
The WG is functioning extremely well with high active participation across northern Europe. Members from other ICES member countries would be encouraged. The WG is on course to meet its ToRs which will be of key importance for ICES if there is any need to advise on marine renewable energy developments in relation to the benthic ecosystem.