Swedish Scientists Study OWF Impact on Marine Wildlife

Lena Bergström, a researcher in marine and coastal ecology, has published a study called Effects of offshore wind farms on marine wildlife—a generalized impact assessment, together with her colleagues from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Swedish Scientists Study OWF Impact on Marine Wildlife
Overview of main pressures from OWF during the operational phase. Expected effect on the local abundance of marine organisms is indicated as (+) aggregation/increase, (−) avoidance/decrease.

The abstract of the study reads: “The present study synthesizes the current state of understanding on the effects of offshore wind farms on marine wildlife, in order to identify general versus local conclusions in published studies.

“The results were translated into a generalized impact assessment for coastal waters in Sweden, which covers a range of salinity conditions from marine to nearly fresh waters. Hence, the conclusions are potentially applicable to marine planning situations in various aquatic ecosystems.”

The authors have also noted that the knowledge in the environmental effects of offshore wind farms has grown and accumulated rapidly, along with the fast development of the industry itself.

They concluded that the construction phase “was consistently associated with negative impact”. However, the operational phase of offshore wind farms can affect  the marine wildlife both negatively and positively. This depends on local environmental conditions as well as prevailing management targets, according to the study.

Noise disruption during the operational phase is still a large issue.

“Many potential negative effects of OWFs can be reduced within the planning process, by avoiding important recruitment habitats and by timing construction activities outside of important breeding seasons,” the researchers said.

The availability of reliable seafloor and habitat maps, along with information on population connectivity is fundamental for the sustainable development of offshore wind farms, they stressed in the conclusion.

Offshore WIND staff, May 05, 2014
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