, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 269-281
Date: 20 May 2008

Meeting the quest for spatial efficiency: progress and prospects of extensive aquaculture within offshore wind farms

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Abstract

Along the German North Sea coast, the observed high spatial competition of stakeholders has encouraged the idea of integrating open ocean aquaculture in conjunction with offshore wind farms beyond the 12 miles zone. The article provides an overview on the current state of transdisciplinary research on a potential implementation of such a multifunctional use concept on a showcase basis, covering biological, technical, economic and social/policy aspects as well as private–public partnerships and the relevant institutional bodies. We show that the cultivation of seaweeds and blue mussels is biologically and technically feasible in a high-energy environment using modified cultivation strategies. The point of departure of our multi-use concept was that the solid groundings of wind turbines could serve as attachment points for the aquaculture installations and become the key to the successful commercial cultivation of any offshore aquatic organism. However, spaces in between the turbines are also attractive for farming projects, since public access is restricted and thus the cultivation site protected from outside influences. An economic analysis of different operation scenarios indicates that the market price and the annual settlement success of juvenile mussels are the main factors that determine the breakeven point. Social and policy science research reveals that the integration of relevant actors into the development of a multi-use concept for a wind farm-mariculture interaction is a complex and controversial issue. Combining knowledge and experience of wind farm planners as well as mussel fishermen and mariculturists within the framework of national and EU policies is probably the most important component for designing and developing an effective offshore co-management regime to limit the consumption of ocean space.

Communicated by H.-D. Franke.