Equivocal effects of offshore wind farms in Belgium on soft substrate epibenthos and fish assemblages

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    With the construction of wind farms, new hard substrates are introduced in the marine environment. Between the turbine rows and around the wind
    farms, however, the soft sediments remain. The inhabiting fauna of these sandy sediments may be influenced by the presence of the turbines and the
    absence of fisheries in the wind farms. These effects were investigated for epibenthos, demersal fish, and benthopelagic fish in the Thorntonbank and Bligh
    Bank wind farms in the Belgian part of the North Sea. Inside the wind farms, several local and temporal effects were detected, including both temporary
    construction effects (e.g., decreased densities of dab, ophiuroids and dragonets) as refugium effects (e.g., the presence of relatively large plaice). At the wind
    farm edges, only few temporary effects were noted, but real edge effects due to changes in fisheries intensity or ‘spillover’ from the wind farms could not
    be shown. The observed effects were not consistent between bothwind farms, which is not surprising, given the differences in epibenthos and fish communities, sandbank topography, fishing pressure, development stage of the wind farms, and the used foundation types. This inconsistency stresses the importance to replicate monitoring activities across wind farms and along the identified gradients.
    TaalEngels
    TijdschriftHydrobiologia
    Aantal pagina's17
    DOI's
    StatusGepubliceerd - 28-okt-2014

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