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Ecological effects of offshore wind farms on Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the southern North Sea

GND
1023144298
VIAF
313230832
Affiliation
Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, Institute of Sea Fisheries, Herwigstraße 31, Bremerhaven, Germany
Gimpel, Antje;
GND
1117114082
ORCID
0000-0002-4377-4319
Affiliation
Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, Institute of Sea Fisheries, Herwigstraße 31, Bremerhaven, Germany
Werner, Karl;
GND
133074552
Affiliation
Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, Institute for Carbon Cycles, , Department of Applied Modelling and Quantitative Methods, Max-Planck-Str. 1, Geesthacht, Germany
Bockelmann, Frank-Detlef;
GND
1012555607
Affiliation
Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, Institute of Sea Fisheries, Herwigstraße 31, Bremerhaven, Germany
Haslob, Holger;
GND
172765544
ORCID
0000-0003-2717-8688
VIAF
311832819
Affiliation
Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, Institute of Sea Fisheries, Herwigstraße 31, Bremerhaven, Germany
Kloppmann, Matthias;
GND
1018823883
VIAF
225438233
Affiliation
Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, Institute of Sea Fisheries, Herwigstraße 31, Bremerhaven, Germany
Schaber, Matthias;
GND
101913688X
VIAF
313230784
Affiliation
Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, Institute of Sea Fisheries, Herwigstraße 31, Bremerhaven, Germany
Stelzenmüller, Vanessa

Evaluating the ecological effects of the rapid expansion of offshore renewables at local, regional and ecosystem-wide scales is essential to understand the overall socio-ecological trade-offs also for other sectors such as fisheries. Hence, little is known about the ecological impact on demersal fish. To shed light on this topic, we studied the effects of an offshore wind farm in the southern North Sea on different life stages of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) using a combination of sampling methods at varying spatial and temporal scales. Our investigations of diet composition and trophic niches indicate that cod utilizes wind turbine piles with scour protection as feeding grounds. Furthermore, collected information on cod adults and early life stages during winter spawning season suggest that spawning activity occurred in winter across the wider wind farm area. We conclude that wind turbine foundations with a scour protection can function as artificial reefs that have local positive effects on the resilience of local cod populations. With our study we contribute to urgently needed observational evidence regarding the ecological impact of offshore wind farm installations to inform area-based management and future monitoring activities.

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