Projects Ecology & North Sea

On 13 May 2020, the NWO Executive Board awarded funding to three knowledge-chain-wide, interdisciplinary consortia.

Effects of windfarms on the marine ecosystem, and implications for governance

Main applicant: dr. ir. J. (Johan) van der Molen (NIOZ - Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee - Coastal Systems)

Consortium partners: Deltares/Delft University of Technology, Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Neptune Energy Netherlands b.v., Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS)

The offshore wind farms required for our future energy may affect water, plants and animals in the North Sea. We do not know enough about this to plan these farms sustainably. We use observations by divers, satellite data and computer models to improve regulations and planning for the energy transition.


Acoustic ecology of pelagic fish communities (APELAFICO): a study into the effects of construction and operation of wind farms

Main applicant: dr. H.W. (Hans) Slabbekoorn (Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Wiskunde en Natuurwetenschappen)

Consortium partners: Pelagic Freezer‐Trawler Association (PFA), Institute of Marine Research (IMR, Norway), Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), JASCO (Germany), Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), Otary (Belgium), Wageningen University and Research (WUR), TNO, Van Oord, Rijkswaterstaat, Stichting de Noordzee, GEMINI, IHC IQIP

APELAFICO uses echo sounders to assess presence and behaviour of pelagic fishes around operational wind turbines and in a danger zone during pile driving. We also explore responses to sounds in captivity and at sea to improve an acoustic deterrent device (Faunaguard) to scare fish out of the danger zone.


Footprint: effects of offshore wind farms on sediments in the Coastal North Sea

Main applicant: prof. dr. K.E.R. (Karline) Soetaert (NIOZ - Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee, Yerseke)

Consortium partners: University of Twente, Rijkswaterstaat, Boskalis, Stichting de Noordzee, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) – SUMO Suspended Matter and Seabed Monitoring and Modelling team en MARECO Marine Ecology and Management team (België)

Current and planned windfarms in the North Sea are located in areas resembling underwater sand waves. Using field work and mathematical models, we will investigate how windfarms change these sand waves, and how this impacts sediment functioning. Our tools will be applied to delineate best practices in order to reduce environmental impacts.