Are offshore wind and fishing incompatible?

► “Include fishermen in the discussion”

Sylvain Rocheassociate teacher-researcher in economics at Sciences Po Bordeaux

Offshore wind power and fishing are compatible, provided that the projects are part of a territory-by-territory approach. It is also necessary to include the fishermen from the start in the discussion, without presenting an already pre-established project, which would be definitive. Moreover, the National Committee for Maritime Fisheries and Marine Farming (CNPMEM) is not opposed, in itself, to the development of offshore wind power. Professional fishermen are bearing the brunt of the soaring fuel prices and have also aware that it is necessary to change the energy model.

→ ANALYSIS. Offshore wind power, what impact on biodiversity?

For this, it will also be necessary to have impartial scientific data on the impacts of the parks. We could rely on the regional IPCCs, groups of scientific experts such as exist in Normandy or New Aquitaine, which could act as mediators. The important thing is to have a body that is not judge and jury.

Why wouldn’t France be able to reconcile the two activities, while others manage to do so, such as the United Kingdom? The fishermen there learned to discuss with energy companies from the 1970s, with the development of the offshore oil and gas industry. Admittedly, in France, the maritime imagination is different, due to the fact that there is no industry at sea. But this example shows that it is achievable.

► “We are deprived of a work surface”

Dimitri RogoffPresident of the Normandy Regional Fisheries Committee

Offshore wind power has become a societal debate, sometimes very political, which goes beyond the scope of maritime impacts. In theory, fishing and wind power are compatible. But in practice, when parks deprive us of a work surface, I sometimes have trouble seeing how this is possible. The Courseulles-sur-Mer park project (Calvados) is located on the largest deposit of scallops in Europe, a resource which represents 50% of the turnover of fishing in Normandy. It’s also hard to accept that there won’t be just one park along the coast, as promised ten years ago, but five.

→ ANALYSIS. Offshore wind: better planning to limit risks

It is planned that the French parks will be accessible to fishermen. But we know there will be a lot of constraints for security reasons. Where the currents are strong, boats will not dare to venture into the parks.

→ REPORT. In Saint-Brieuc, fishermen demonstrate again against the wind farm

Above all, it is very difficult to know today what the impacts will be in ten years. This creates anxiety in the fishing world: if the park is in a sole spawning area, will the soles come back? What will be the cumulative effects of the parks? For the moment, the projects do not provide many means of monitoring these consequences. And the fishermen have little weight in the debates: when we proposed alternative settlement areas, they were refused.


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