The need for marine renewable energy has become more pressing in recent years due to the increasing demand for sustainable and clean sources of energy. Alongside a transition to clean energy to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, reducing energy imports is another driver pushing marine renewable energy developments to become a priority policy objective in most ICES Member Countries and beyond.
Within Europe, marine renewable developments (including wind, wave, and tidal) have been steadily increasing over the last two decades, and globally, trends are following. As the push for offshore renewable developments increases, ICES foresees advisory needs will also develop quickly.
Offshore renewables, particularly wind energy, represent a major change in how we use marine space and, as a leader in marine ecosystem-based management, ICES is focused on providing scientific support for the challenges ahead.
“We have a lot of interest in understanding the environmental impacts," says Andrew Gill, Cefas, UK and co-chair of ICES Working Group on Offshore Wind Development and Fisheries, who describes the development as “a huge, new human activity, the scale of which we haven't seen before – and so it is really important for us to consider what might change as a result of this activity".
“What are the ecosystem changes?", Gill asks, “On what scale do we need to collect the data? We need to have the right questions and the right methods to collect those data in order for us to help understand those changes".
From 7–9 March 2023, ICES will host a Workshop on a Research Roadmap for Offshore and Marine Renewable Energy (WKOMRE). This workshop will explore how ICES can better coordinate science on offshore renewable energy development, identify scientific capabilities that ICES can provide to meet transboundary science needs, and prepare for advisory requests. What further research is needed? How do we coordinate and engage with different stakeholders?
WKOMRE will comprise members of existing ICES expert groups that focus on offshore renewable energy development, its interactions with other human activities, and its impact on marine habitats, along with members of other expert groups whose work relates to specific aspects of offshore renewable energy development.
"There are a range of ocean users impacted by this major change in the use of marine space and it's crucial that we continue to invest in the science," says Alan Haynie, ICES General Secretary, "and that scientists, industry, and policymakers work together towards a better coexistence of marine users."
Involving stakeholdersSpace in the marine environment is limited. Fishers are concerned about the possible loss of fishing grounds. Increased development also impacts scientific research and long-term surveys that are elements of sustainable management. Shipping, tourism, local communities, environmental sectors, government, civil society, and more - there are many stakeholders affected by increased development in marine renewables, so setting out a roadmap to avoid or reduce challenges and direct towards opportunities is important. In this workshop, ICES will develop a strategy for how to involve stakeholders. The resulting research roadmap will allow the coordination of activities to ensure inclusive participation and identify dedicated meetings with stakeholders.
“The US and Europe are both on the same trajectory as we move to deeper water, using new floating wind technology, so we do have a chance to get ahead of this change in use and get the science right", says Andrew Lipsky, NOAA, US and co-chair Working Group on Offshore Wind Development and Fisheries, "but the time period is narrowing which makes the collaboration and work of our ICES community all that more important".
The Workshop on a Research Roadmap for Offshore and Marine Renewable Energy (WKOMRE), chaired by Andrew Gill, Cefas, UK and Jon Hare, NOAA, US, takes place 7–9 March at ICES Headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark.
ICES will host the Workshop on a Research Roadmap for Offshore and Marine Renewable Energy (WKOMRE) to explore how ICES can better coordinate science on offshore renewable energy development.
Emerging topicThe Working Group on Offshore Wind Development and Fisheries (WGOWDF) addresses the challenges of coexistence for these two industries, including the impacts on fishery operations and fishing communities, fishery-independent surveys and fishery-dependent data, and marine habitat alterations, while the Working Group on Marine Benthal and Renewable Energy Developments (WGMBRED) explores the environmental impacts of coastal and offshore developments. The Working Group on Offshore Renewable Energy (WGORE) links science from groups on specialist topics (seabirds, benthic ecology, fish ecology) to its application in planning, consenting and regulatory processes.
Many more ICES groups are beginning to look at offshore energy in their work:
Working Group on Spatial Fisheries Data ( WGSFD)
Working Group for Marine Planning and Coastal Zone Management (WGMPCZM)
Working Group on Social Indicators (WGSOCIAL)
Working Group on Economics (WGECON)
Working Group on Cumulative Effects Assessment Approaches in Management (WGCEAM)
Ecosystem Observation Steering Group (EOSG)
Workshop on Socio-economic Implications of Offshore Wind on Fishing Communities (WKSEIOWFC) 2021