The effects of temporary exclusion of activity due to wind farm construction on a lobster (Homarus gammarus) fishery suggests a potential management approach
Offshore wind farms (OWF) form an important part of many countries strategy for responding to the threat of climate change, their development can conflict with other offshore activities. Static gear fisheries targeting sedentary benthic species are particularly affected by spatial management that involves exclusion of fishers. Here we investigate the ecological effect of a short-term closure of a European lobster (Homarus gammarus (L.)) fishing ground, facilitated by the development of the Westermost Rough OWF located on the north-east coast of the United Kingdom. We also investigate the effects on the population when the site is reopened on completion of the construction. We find that temporary closure offers some respite for adult animals and leads to increases in abundance and size of the target species in that area. Reopening of the site to fishing exploitation saw a decrease in catch rates and size structure, this did not reach levels below that of the surrounding area. Opening the site to exploitation allows the fishery to recuperate some of the economic loss during the closure. We suggest that our results may indicate that temporary closures of selected areas may be beneficial and offer a management option for lobster fisheries.
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