CoCoNet Press Release August 2014
OFFSHORE WIND FARMS - BAD OR GOOD?
The CoCoNet project http://www.coconet-fp7.eu/ is preparing guidelines for the establishment of MPA (Marine Protected Area) networks in the Mediterranean and Black Seas based on connectivity among different areas. A detailed wind 'atlas' of both basins is also being developed to test the feasibility of establishing offshore wind farms (OWFs) in these regions. The consortium involves 39 institutes and small and medium-sized enterprises from 22 countries, covering a wide geographical range. MPAs, to work efficiently, are to be networked; therefore, project partners are identifying a set of locations that are connected with each other, sharing common ecosystem features.
The aim is to identify the physical and biological processes and connections that govern patterns of biodiversity distribution. The resulting habitat protection and good management will enhance policies for fisheries and other human activities related to good environmental status.
OWFs represent a significant potential for the production of clean energy. They also enhance marine biodiversity by introducing submerged structures on which bottom-dwelling organisms can settle and, in turn, attract fish populations, while discouraging trawling on the sea bottom.
Two pilot projects have already been set up for the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. These projects are intended to be the areas where concepts developed by CoCoNet can be applied in the real world. Activities in the pilot projects to date include the use of oceanographic vessels for open and deep sea operations, with smaller craft for coastal studies.
CoCoNet will help to conserve Europe's natural heritage by protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems and the plant and animal species they contain. In addition, it will encourage new populations to develop and help combat global warming by promoting clean energy through the building of OWFs.
There is no OWF in the Mediterranean and in the Black Sea yet, so we are trying to hypothesize its impacts on the marine ecosystem. The main problem with OWF in these basins is that the tourist industry does not like to have installations near the coast, due to visual pollution.... the socio-economic side is somehow negative. If they are constructed in more offshore areas, the problem is less acute.
In conclusion, the CoCoNet team are working hard not to invent new things for OWF but to calculate capacity and sustaibability of OWF for the next generation. We know that the coordination for integrated MPA/OWF network is essential and concerted actions are needed for the sustainable use of our beautiful seas.
Igneada (Tuekey) of the Black Sea