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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Short-term effects of fishery exclusion in offshore wind farms on macrofaunal communities in the Belgian part of the North Sea

Published source details

Coates D.A., Kapasakali D., Vincx M. & Vanaverbeke J. (2016) Short-term effects of fishery exclusion in offshore wind farms on macrofaunal communities in the Belgian part of the North Sea. Fisheries Research, 179, 131-138


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Cease or prohibit shipping Subtidal Benthic Invertebrate Conservation

A before-and-after, site comparison study in 2008–2012 of multiple sites in an area of sandy seabed in the southern North Sea, 40–50 km off the coast of Belgium (Coates et al. 2016) found that three years after closing an area to shipping, overall community composition was different in closed and open sites where shipping occurred, but total abundance, biomass, species richness and diversity remained similar across sites. Data and analyses of community compositions were not reported. Total invertebrate abundance did not change over time and remained similar at sites closed and open to shipping, before (2008: closed 361 vs open 436 individuals/m2) and one to two years after the closure (2011–2012: 369–1,027 vs 256–458). This was also true for total biomass (2008: 802 vs 1,656; 2011–2012: 514–5,733 vs 1,392–1,864 mg/m2), species richness (2008: 10.3 vs 10.7; 2011–2012: 10.4–12.3 vs 10.3–14.7 species/sample), and diversity (reported as diversity index). In 2009-2010 a windfarm was constructed, and an area of approximately 21 km2 closed to all shipping (including fishing vessels) was established around the windfarm (500 m radius). Invertebrates were surveyed at 6–16 sites inside the windfarm area and 15–25 outside before construction in 2008, and after in 2011 and 2012 (always in September–October). Invertebrates >1 mm were collected using a sediment grab (0.1 m2) at 15–40 m depth, identified, counted, and their dried biomass measured or estimated.

(Summarised by Anaëlle Lemasson)

Cease or prohibit all types of fishing Subtidal Benthic Invertebrate Conservation

A before-and-after, site comparison study in 2008–2012 of multiple sites in an area of sandy seabed in the southern North Sea, 40–50 km off the coast of Belgium (Coates et al. 2016) found that over the three years after closing an area to all fishing, overall community composition changed over time both in closed sites and sites where fishing occurred, and were different overall, but total abundance, biomass, species richness and diversity did not change and remained similar across sites. Data and analyses of community compositions were not reported. Total invertebrate abundance did not change over time and remained similar at sites closed and open to fishing, both before (2008: closed 361 vs fished 436 individuals/m2) and after (2011–2012: 369–1,027 vs 256–458) the closure. This was also true for total biomass (2008: 802 vs 1,656; 2011–2012: 514–5,733 vs 1,392–1,864 mg/m2), species richness (2008: 10.3 vs 10.7; 2011–2012: 10.4–12.3 vs 10.3–14.7 species/sample), and diversity (reported as a diversity index). In 2009/2010 a windfarm was constructed, and an area of approximately 21 km2 closed to all shipping, and as such fishing, established around the windfarm (500 m radius). Invertebrates were surveyed at 6–16 sites inside the windfarm area and 15–25 outside before construction in 2008, and after in 2011 and 2012 (always in September–October). Invertebrates >1 mm were collected using a sediment grab (0.1 m2) at 15–40 m depth, identified, counted, and their dried biomass measured or estimated.

(Summarised by Anaëlle Lemasson)