The Fisheries and Marine Renewable Energy Working Group: creating an agenda for improved co-existence.

Monday, 15 December 2014
Maria Shauna Campbell1, Jiska De Groot2, Matthew Ashley2 and Lynda Rodwell2, (1)Plymouth University, Plymouth, PL4, United Kingdom, (2)Plymouth University, Plymouth, United Kingdom
As an emerging industry, Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) is expected to play a major contributory role if the UK is to successfully reach its desired target of renewable energy production by 2020. However, due to the competing objectives and priorities of MRE and other industries, for example fisheries, and in the delivering of conservation measures, the demand for space within our marine landscape is increasing, and interactions are inevitable.

In order to promote better understanding of the challenges in resolving interactions between these industries, a Fisheries and Marine Renewable Energy Working Group was set up under the Natural Environment Research Council Marine Renewable Energy Knowledge Exchange Programme (NERC MREKEP). The Working Group carried out an initial scoping survey in order to summarise recent and current research activities and identify key issues and topics in the fields of fisheries and MRE interactions. Mixed stakeholder groups discussed four primary topics: priority issues; barriers to progress; problem mitigation; and thoughts on the consultation process. Points of discussion were categorized into themes to aid analysis and protocol development. These themes were: culture, community and economy; legislation and rights; data and information; and collaboration and communication.

Subsequent invited stakeholder and expert panel workshops were held to facilitate knowledge exchange between fisheries and development of MRE in order to identify priority research issues, knowledge gaps and collaboration needs. Four group sessions identified: practical steps to aid interaction between industries; barriers, opportunities and solutions; an agenda for action, timescales and partners; and action points carried forward by each stakeholder group.

This Working Group, guided under the MREKEP banner, is the first of its kind in the UK, bringing together individuals from a nationally diverse group of academics, regulators, policy makers and representatives from fisheries, MRE sectors and conservation bodies. Therefore, it has the potential, for the first time, to develop effective guidelines and protocols for both mitigation and assessment of displacement of fishing effort, for the entire life cycle of MRE projects.