Changes to fisheries that result from offshore wind farm (OWF) installations may be considered good or bad depending on various stakeholders’ perspectives. OWFs can act as artificial reefs that may benefit secondary fish production, but such effects may also have ecological consequences. The fisheries exclusion effect that turns some OWFs into no-go areas, hence effectively no-take zones, could provide resource enhancements or redistribution. However, the displacement of fishing effort may have consequences to fisheries elsewhere. Changes in the sensory environment related to sound, as well as electromagnetic fields and physical alterations of current and wind wakes, may have as yet unknown impacts on fisheries resources. Understanding the interactions among effect type, OWF development phase, and spatiotemporal population dynamics of commercial and recreational species remains challenging, exemplified by the commercial fishery lobster genus Homarus in European and North American waters. While knowledge of the interactions between resource species and OWFs is improving, there remain questions on the wider interaction between and consequences of OWFs and fisheries. Studies of this wider relevance should aim to improve understanding of the economic and societal impacts of OWFs linked to ecosystem services that support fisheries. Furthermore, assisting fisheries management and providing advice requires monitoring and survey data collection at appropriate spatiotemporal scales. This information will help to determine whether OWFs have any meaningful impact on regional fisheries, and increased investments will be needed to target scientifically appropriate monitoring of OWFs and fisheries, which is supported by better integrated policy and regulation.
This article is part of Oceanography's Special Issue on Understanding the Effects of Offshore Wind Energy Development on Fisheries.