Development of ICM Strategies for Offshore Aquaculture in Combination with Offshore Wind Farms

The goal of this project is the development of a framework for implementing multiple land use within the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the North Sea taking as an example the potential combination of projected offshore wind farms and offshore mariculture.


Ongoing biologically and technically-directed pilot studies, particularly focusing on extensive production of blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) and kelp (Laminaria saccharina), show promising results for mariculture in the German North Sea (see "Offshore Aquaculture Project" and "Roter Sand"). Due to the provision of fixed infrastructure, the establishment of offshore wind farms comprehends the possibility to develop an alternative way of growing marine organisms in the open sea, but also to counterbalance the continuing scarce seed mussel supply, which influences the mussel fishery sector in the Wadden Sea. That way, the ocean areas designated for wind energy production would not only be beneficial for one single use but offer the base for synergetic effects between two ocean uses that can potentially be combined in a multiple-use concept: wind and organisms farming (see "Feasibility Study").

In addition to the ongoing biologically-technical projects in the present project we are focusing on the management of interrelated activities between the two involved actor groups, wind farmers and mariculture operators, as well as on the preconditions for establishing a multifunctional co-management between all involved parties.

Multiple-use concepts in the frame of an Integrated Coastal Management (ICM)

The outlined research project points to the importance of the skills and knowledge any stakeholder must possess for establishing a possible strategy of successful offshore multiple-use of two different sector groups, wind farmers and mariculture operators. The development of a new economic sector in a multiple-use scheme requires a clear definition of the rights and duties for all involved parties, which in turn is based on the elaboration of the respective needs, offers and constraints. Thereupon, a comprehensive assessment of potential alliances and synergies between the respective actor groups has to be performed in order to guarantee short-term profit and long-term revenue for both industries.

For the development of a concept on multiple-use planning close cooperation with scientists, representatives of responsible governmental agencies, fishery groups, mariculturists, and wind farmers is needed since communication and a participatory approach to a very early stage seem to play an essential role in order to promote collaboration and support from public and private sectors as well as from individual stakeholders. Co-management to be understood as “a situation in which two or more social actors negotiate, define and guarantee amongst themselves a fair sharing of the management functions, entitlement and responsibilities for a given territory, area or set of natural resources” can be viewed as an appropriate approach for realizing interrelated activities in an offshore wind farm ? mariculture interaction.


In a first step working modality and management structures are investigated in an ongoing project where mussel fishermen work together with scientists and representatives of the respective responsible authorities in order to examine the potential of seed mussel settlement on artificial structures in nearshore locations (Fig. 1). By performing a stakeholder analysis (SA) it is anticipated to acquire empirical knowledge and understanding of the key stakeholders involved in the process of establishing and running the nearshore long line, and the factors governing resource allocation and decisions as well as collaboration among each other. Gained experience will in a second step be used to develop management strategies and scientific criteria for multiple-use schemes in offshore locations.

At the same time, document analyses as well as expert interviews focus on definite topics, such as wind farm maintenance and mariculture harvesting concepts and their possible interrelation. In addition, past and upcoming workshops are directed to merge several stakeholder groups and evaluate conflicting and overlapping interests (Fig. 2).


The central objectives of this project are:

  • Development of a realization concept for implementing multiple ocean use for offshore wind farm and mariculture
  • Identification of a positive impetus for multiple-use schemes (e.g. "win-win" situations, cost reduction)
  • Establishment of scientific criteria for a multifunctional co-management
  • Expression of recommended procedures for multiple-use concepts in coastal and offshore areas

By accepting the main idea of an integrated coastal management (ICM) approach, an ecologically and economically sustainable process can be launched and long-term success can be expected. For this approach, incorporation at all levels is required, not only between the different scientific fields, but also by integrating community needs, external user groups and the responsible regulatory and planning authorities.

By taking into account the specific needs, offers and constraints of the parties involved, as well as their clearly stated rights and responsibilities, it is expected that a spectrum of opportunities for multiple-use planning may emerge. Moreover, the establishment of scientific criteria and methodologies for the successful implementation of multiple-use concepts for a wind farm - mariculture interaction may foster an economic coastal development and likewise meets the necessity to use coastal and marine areas in a long-lasting way in terms of an integrated coastal management strategy.

This project is part of the joint research project "Zukunft Küste - Coastal Futures", which aims to establish a sustainable as well as Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) at the western coast of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The project is funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research since April 2004 and will initially be supported for three years.


Prof. Dr. Bela H. Buck

Dipl.-Biol. & MSc. Tanja Michler-Cieluch

Silvia Kodeih

Additional Content

Mytilus edulis

Crassostrea gigas

Ostrea edulis

Saccharina latissima (Laminaria saccharina)

Palmaria palmata

Zukunft Küste - Coastal Futures