wind farm

Fishermen up in arms over new plans for offshore wind farms

Farms “signal death certificate for fishing sector”, warns cooperative

Around 15 fishermen’s associations from around the country are meeting in Viana do Castelo tomorrow to take a joint position on five areas under public consultation for the implantation of offshore wind farms.

The short version is that these associations believe the farms, straddling up to 3,000 sq kms, will effectively put an end to fishing in Portugal.

Talking to Lusa today, Francisco Portela Rosa for VianaPesca explains: “We have called a meeting with all the country’s associations […]. We will have to go to the European court if necessary because it is impossible for them to put an end to fishing in the country. It’s (like) something from another world…”

The five areas at stake are those off Viana do Castelo, Leixões, Figueira da Foz, Ericeira-Cascais and Sines.

As official announcements have trailed, the largest wind farm is proposed for Figueira da Foz – spanning 1,237 sq kms with a potential for up to four gigawatts (GW) of capacity – followed by Viana do Castelo (663k sq kms/  2GW), Sines (499 sq kms/  1.5GW), Leixões (463.36 sq kms/ also 1.5GW) and Ericeira and Sintra/Cascais (300 sq kms/ 1GW).

According to fishermen these constructions are hugely intrusive for local fauna. They cite, as an example, the Windfloat technology park made up of three floating platforms that support turbines with an installed capacity of 25 megawatts (MW), connected to an 18-kilometre cable, installed 100 metres deep into the seabed, with the capacity to receive 200 MW of renewable energy.

When it was first constructed – Europe’s first semi-submersible offshore wind farm – there was nothing but ‘awe’ at the brilliance of technology. 

For fishermen however the fish simply disappeared.

“According to the head of VianaPescas, with around 450 members from Figueira da Foz, district of Coimbra, to Caminha, in Alto Minho, fishermen have seen that the fauna has disappeared about a mile from the wind farm“, says Lusa.

Added to that is the fact that fishing is banned along a 17 km stretch where the underwater cable connects the platforms to the grid onshore.

Yes, compensation was decided (in 2019): €500,000 for 28 local fishing vessels affected by the ban, but the plans under public discussion now will take the situation to a whole new level.

“It is an impossible, unacceptable area… It will be the death certificate for fishing across the country”, says Francisco Portela Rosa.

His sector is not against wind turbines per se, he stressed, it is simply against being sacrificed in their name.

“I don’t know what will happen to the sardine. With so all the blocks (of turbines) that are planned, I don’t know what will happen to the species,” he told Lusa.

Previously, in 2018 and 2019, Viana do Castelo fish producers’ cooperative contested two government attempts to authorise the installation of a wind farm between Viana do Castelo and the border with neighbouring Spain.

The government meantime has acknowledged “the ambition to reach an installed capacity of offshore wind of 10 GW by 2030, to be allocated by auction”, concludes Lusa.

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