ICES Annual Science Conference 2023

Theme session A

Ecosystem science needed to support a new era of offshore marine renewable energy

Wednesday 13 September
Room 0A

Thursday 14 September
10:30–12:00 and 13:00–14:30
Room 0B

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This session brings together experts working within ICES region to share experience and understanding of how offshore renewable energy installations affect both the marine ecosystem and society across large geographical areas. It aims to foster collaboration between researchers investigating individual aspects of offshore and marine renewable energy installations, which have commonalities regardless of location to facilitate future multidisciplinary and transboundary research and strategic monitoring programmes.

​A lot of marine areas see a continuous proliferation of offshore renewable energy installations with the intent to combat climate change and gain independence in energy supplies. It is now clear that these installations have a local effect on individual components of the marine ecosystem and emerging evidence of regional effects at larger spatial scales. 

The installation of offshore energy arrays across our marine environment has several consequences. There is alteration to the local marine ecosystem and biodiversity through increase in hard surface colonizers and subsequent emerging trophic opportunities for predators. This leads to changes in distribution and abundance of marine organisms, affecting marine ecosystem functioning. There are also changes in traditional maritime activities such as commercial and recreational fisheries, leading to in some cases the displacement of fisheries. This new use can also open new economic opportunities; and depending on policy drivers, through multi-use of renewable energy concession zones, result in the removal and/or addition of local human pressures on the marine ecosystem.

Given the far-reaching consequences of the increasing scale, pace, and magnitude of offshore renewable energy installations for both the ecosystem and society, there is an urgent need for knowledge on ecosystem-wide effects of these developments.  Scientific understanding is needed to inform cumulative impact assessments and evaluate socio-economic trade-offs of management decisions with regard to the installation of offshore renewable energy. Central to addressing these knowledge gaps is the collaboration of experts and methods from different disciplines across geographic areas.

We welcome contributions on:

  • integrating observations, experiments and modelling to upscale local observations towards ecosystem-wide information
  • informing cumulative impact assessments on larger geographical scales taking into account the multiple levels of organization of the marine ecosystem
  • assessing socio-economic trade-offs of altered use of marine space caused by the installation of multiple offshore renewable energy installations 

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Jan Vanaverbeke (Belgium)
Daniel Wood (UK)
Andy Lipsky (USA)

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Theme session A

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) · Conseil International pour l'Exploration de la Mer (CIEM)
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