Offshore windfarms could ‘wreak havoc’ on fish spawning grounds

Fishermen fear offshore windfarms could “wreak havoc” on key spawning and nursery grounds.

The Shetland Fisherman’s Association (SFA) has today (Monday) called for research to be carried out before rushing ahead with developments which could threaten the industry.

It has used a series of maps showing how large swathes of the seabed currently earmarked for potential windfarms intersect with sensitive ecosystems for young fish.

The Scottish government’s two leasing rounds – ScotWind and Innovation and Target Oil and Gas (Intog) – include 18 possible development sites, including in the waters around Shetland.

Of these, the SFA claims just two are outwith important spawning or nursery grounds for haddock.

Haddock spawning and nursery grounds are shown to overlap with areas proposed for possible offshore windfarms. Image: SFA.
Haddock spawning and nursery grounds are shown to overlap with areas proposed for possible offshore windfarms. Image: SFA.

Scotland’s most valuable pelagic fish stocks such as mackerel, herring and blue whiting could also be at risk, the maps suggest.

The SFA urged the Scottish government and offshore developers to investigate the impacts of anchoring offshore windfarms in the middle of spawning grounds.

Executive officer Daniel Lawson said: “Ministers must adopt the precautionary principle and apply it.

“While the industry does not contest the concept of more offshore renewables, this rush towards development means that mistakes will be made – with Scotland’s productive and pristine fishing grounds potentially paying the price.

“Our government says it wants to support coastal communities, build a world class fishing nation and protect the health of Scotland’s fish stocks.

“Our community relies on a sustainable fishing industry and encouraging offshore windfarms without a full understanding of their impact is a real threat to the sustainability of those stock.”

The SFA has also claimed there is mounting evidence showing the negative impact of offshore developments on shellfish, including brown crab and lobster.

Mr Lawson added: “We must avoid a situation where fishing crews providing low carbon, nutritious and healthy food are threatened with the loss of their legitimate businesses and ultimately replaced by higher carbon food producers.

“Fishermen are now questioning whether ministers or Marine Scotland even took spawning grounds into account in their rush to auction off vast areas of sea to multinational energy firms.”

The Scottish government has been approached for comment.


Add Your Comment

Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.