In countries planning the development of offshore wind farms, representatives of the fishing sector often protest loudly. Fishermen fear that the development of wind turbines will deprive them of their livelihood – wind turbines may be built in fishing areas or may limit their development. Similar voices are being raised not only in Estonia, but also in Poland.
Not so long ago, we wrote in BalticWind.EU that in May 2021, the Estonian government presented a maritime spatial development project for public evaluation. Mart Undrest, the head of the Estonian Fishermen Association, referred to the plans for the development of offshore energy in the Estonian media. As he points out, fishermen criticize the document because it is insufficient in terms of research on the impact of farms on the environment. He points out directly that offshore wind turbines can harm fisheries, and thus the identity of the fishing environment is at risk. Wind farms planned in the Gulf of Riga threaten to close access to traditional fisheries, in particular herring fish.
Similar voices are also raised in Poland. In July, Polish fishermen protested in towns in Pomerania, who were blocking the entry to Ustka, Łeba and Władysławowo. These are popular travel destinations for Polish tourists. Fishermen were walking through the pedestrian crossing and every few minutes they let waiting vehicles pass.
Through protests, fishermen want to draw attention to the tragic situation of recreational fisheries owners. They indicate the lack of implementation of the industry agreement with the current Minister of Maritime Affairs of January 16, 2020. The fishermen primarily demand financial support. In 2020, the owners of recreational fishing received non-returnable subsidies in the amount of PLN 14 million from the state budget, which was announced by the press spokesman of theMinistry of Infrastructure, Szymon Huptyś.
– “In all Polish ports there are ships that will not return to the profession. Offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea take away our only fishery, and the ban on cod fishing will be extended” – indicated in the announcement by the Crisis Staff of Fisheries Shipowners.
A member of the crisis staff of recreational fishery owners, Michał Niedźwiecki, also referred to the matter during the Seym Committee on Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, during which the deputies discussed the actions taken in relation to recreational fishery owners in connection with the entry into force on January 1, 2020 of the fishing ban cod in the eastern Baltic Sea.
– “The Polish state and government, by agreeing to close the Baltic Sea, deprived us of the opportunity to earn. At this point, offshore wind farms enter our only fishing grounds. We have nowhere to go back. Not only do we have no place, but we also have nowhere to go. If it turned out that tomorrow the European Union would allow hunting, there would be nowhere. The critical infrastructure that will be built on the Baltic Sea will in no way allow us to return to our fishery, not
to the main body of water, where we could move our units, sail, transport and start a new activity” – explained Niedźwiecki.
Cooperation between fishermen and offshore wind farm developers is the subject of a resolution adopted on July 7, 2021 by members of the European Parliament on the impact of offshore wind farms and other renewable energy systems on the fisheries sector. Parliament is sounding the alarm over the future construction of offshore wind farms. The construction of new wind turbines in the seas of the Old Continent could have a serious negative impact on fisheries. They are calling for measures to be taken to protect the lives of fishermen.