Developing benefit schemes and financial compensation measures for fishermen impacted by marine renewable energy projects
Commercial fishermen are arguably the stakeholder group most likely to be directly impacted by the expansion of the marine renewable energy (MRE) sector. The potential opposition of fishermen may hinder the development of MRE projects and the provision of benefit schemes could to enhance acceptance. Benefit schemes refer to additional voluntary measures that are provided by a developer to local stakeholders. The aim of this study is to explore the issue of the provision of benefit packages to local fishing communities and financial compensation measures for fishermen who may be impacted by MRE projects. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with fourteen fishermen from three separate case study sites around the island of Ireland where MRE projects were being developed. In addition, ten company fisheries liaison officers (CFLOs) who have worked on MRE projects in the UK and Ireland were also interviewed. The interviews were analysed under the headings of local employment, benefits in kind, compensation and community funds and ownership of projects. Analysis shows that there is uncertainty among fishermen over whether they would benefit or gain employment from MRE. Provision of re-training schemes and preferential hiring practices could be used by MRE developers to reduce this uncertainty. There was also agreement between fishermen and CFLOs on the need for the provision of an evidence-base and a standard approach for the calculation of disruption payments. A formal structure for the provision of benefit schemes for fishermen would be useful. Furthermore, schemes that provide a range of benefits to fishermen and other stakeholders over the lifetime of a MRE project are more likely to be successful at enhancing acceptance.