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Impact of piling noise on Atlantic cod during windfarm construction

Status: In Progress
 Institutes | Dataset 

Institutes (2)  Top | Dataset 

Abstract
How harmful is the noise produced by the construction of a wind farm at sea for Atlantic cod? This project aims to answer this question. With the construction of offshore wind farms, industrial activities increased significantly in the North Sea in recent years. The construction of wind farms generates powerful underwater noise, and underwater noise is potentially harmful for marine life. Different fish species are known to use wind farms as rest, feeding or reproduction areas. So extension of existing wind farms can cause potential problems for the local marine species communities. Although the interest in fish has grown for some years already, there are remarkably little experimental data available on the potential impact of underwater noise on fish during the construction stage, and certainly no data from field experiments. Atlantic cod is a fish species which uses wind farms as feeding ground and also as protection against predators. Atlantic cod is, however, under pressure because of overfishing, and is as such classified as ‘vulnerable species’. In Belgium, wind farms are closed for fisheries and as such th ese areas can contribute to the conservation and restoration of cod populations. However, it is possible that future piling activities in the Belgian part of the North Sea might have a negative impact on the cod present and thus further increase the pressure on cod populations. This project will, based on a cage experiment in the field, assess the potential impact of wind farm construction (piling) on cod. Three cages, each with a number of cod, will be hang out at increasing distance (50 m, 2 km, 17 km) of the piling activities. As such, cod will be exposed to different noise levels, which will allow to determine a threshold at which cod can be injured.

Dataset  Top | Institutes 
  • Atlantic cod acoustic telemetry dataset used to assess impact of piling noise on cod movement behaviour, more

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