Impact: The Influence of Offshore Wind Developments on Scotland’s Fishing Industry in the Context of Climate Change

Tuesday 20th February 2024

Developing the renewable energy sector in Scotland is an important part of meeting Net Zero targets. This requires a large increase in the number of offshore wind turbines operating in Scotland’s waters, crowding the marine space and enhancing the risk of interactions with other marine users such as the fishing industry. At the same time, climate change is altering the marine environment, shifting the spaces that the fishers utilise as species distributions change over time.  

The Net Zero Operations programme aims to accelerate the transition towards a net-zero future. As part of this, the team is currently working on the Data for Net Zero (D4NZ) project ‘Marine Environment Industrial Planning Application’. The work package entails producing an objective, data-driven tool to support decision-making and planning in the marine environment that will inform the potential interactions between different stakeholders in the marine space. 

Scottish Fishing Industry 

The fishing industry in Scotland can be grouped into three broad sectors – pelagic, demersal and shellfish. Each sector generates a significant amount of income for the Scottish economy (Figure 1) and are important sources of employment in coastal areas (Scottish Government, 2022).  

A graph with blue lines and numbers

Description automatically generated

Figure 1. Value of landings by the Scottish fishing industry in 2022. Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics 2022 https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-sea-fisheries-statistics-2022/ 

Impacts of Climate Change 

Sea temperatures in the northeast Atlantic have been increasing as a result of climate change. A range of climate models have been developed to model these changes over time and predict how the marine environment will look in the future.