Wind farm contractors hope to lure back lobsters

New wind farms off Germany’s North Sea coast will provide an ideal habitat that could help restore the lobster population near Heligoland after British bombing during and after World War II drove them away.

Biologists at the Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research are breeding 3,000 lobsters to be released next year into the Borkum Riffgat offshore wind farm near the island 70 km off the German-Dutch coast.

The 1.5 square km island had a thriving fishing industry before it became a Nazi fortress in the war, pounded by Allied bombs, and then later used for target practice. It is now a tourist resort…

Lobsters, whose local population is 90 percent smaller than it was 70 years ago, need a firm seabed to thrive…”The new wind parks mean lobsters may settle in a new habitat, because the stony foundations offer a favorable environment,” project leader Heinz-Dieter Franke said.

The 700,000 euro scheme is funded by compensation paid to the state of Lower Saxony by utility EWE for any potential ecological damage caused by the construction of its wind park. The money will fund breeding, reintroduction and monitoring of the lobsters for roughly two years.

“With Germany’s shift to renewables, we could have 5,000 wind farms by 2030, so if it works, this kind of project could have a huge effect on the lobster population,” Franke said…

Lobster expert Dominic Boothroyd, general manager of Britain’s National Lobster Hatchery, said the idea of using the hard foundations of a wind park made sense and that projects to reintroduce young lobsters had taken place in Britain and Norway, though not on wind farms.

“From these projects, we know the animals survive and that they contribute to fishery and reproduce…” Boothroyd said.

If there are no other impediments to the revival, this all makes great sense. Ask anyone who ever lived and worked on the Gulf of Mexico through the period of the introduction of drilling platforms.

The operative word is “structure”. Fishing of all sorts in all locations improved with the growth and spread of every kind of platform throughout the Gulf – and every other body of water of moderate depth where the structure effect could be felt.

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