A project aimed at increasing the number of European lobsters in the German North Sea, by encouraging them to use scour protection at the base of turbine foundations, has been awarded funding.
Next year, 3,000 lobsters will be raised on the island of Helgoland and released at the base of the 30 turbine foundations at the 108MW Riffgat offshore wind farm. It is hoped that the lobsters will colonise the areas.
European lobster populations declined significantly in the German North Sea in the 1950s and 1960s, and efforts to reverse the trend have largely failed. The sand and silt across much of the area’s seabed is not a useful habitat for the lobster.
But there is new hope that the offshore wind farms due to be built in the German Bight area will create a suitable habitat and result in "long-term stabilisation of the population".
The exclusion of commercial fishing activity within most offshore wind farm sites has long been expected to encourage an increase in some fish and crustacean species, but this is the first time that a concerted effort will have been made to use offshore wind installations for nature conservation.
Awarded funding of just under €700,000, the three-year project will be managed by marine research organisation, the Alfred-Wegener-Institut.