Trawlermen vs Turbines: Offshore Wind Farms Putting Scottish Fishermen Out of Business

Celebrated in the BBC reality TV series, ‘Trawlermen’ the men that brave the waves in search of the seafood that graces British dining tables, restaurants and fish and chip shops risk life and limb to bring the catch home.

Ruthlessly competitive, British fishermen not only have to contend with mountainous seas and other Trawlermen, now the fishing grounds that they fiercely guard as their own are literally being stolen out from under them.

In just the latest example, Scottish Trawlermen operating in the Moray Firth are about to be displaced by hundreds of offshore wind turbines. The fishermen concerned are hoping that they might receive some kind of compensation for the massive financial loss. From STT’s long association with the wind industry, we wish them luck – they’re going to need it.

Offshore wind farm work could ignite ‘creel wars’ in Moray Firth
The Press and Journal
David Mackay
26 May 2017

A fisherman has warned “creel wars” could be sparked in the Moray Firth amid claims a massive wind farm will dramatically reduce catching grounds.

Buckie-based Lee Brown has been landing mackerel, squid and shellfish from off the coast of Spey Bay and Kingston for 20 years.

But now he faces losing up to £40,000 over the next three years unless he moves into other areas, which he worries will cause conflict among other trawlermen.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) are building 84 turbines about eight miles east from Caithness as part of the £2.6billion Beatrice development.

As part of the project, engineers will dig an underwater trench to lay a power cable that will come ashore near Portgordon.

Mr Brown, skipper of the Lily, fears that unless he receives compensation from SSE he could be forced to stray into contested waters with other fishermen or walk away from the industry he has made his livelihood.

He said: “There has been meetings up and down the coast with fishermen about the compensation and what they are going to do about going up against the bigger boats.

“I don’t want to go up against the big trawlers. They’re bigger, larger and more powerful than what I’ve got. I understand they need to make a living as much as I do too though.

“I’ve already had disagreements with fishermen which resulted in my creels being towed away. It could all end up in carnage. We could be looking at creel wars.”

Mr Brown has been warned to stay clear of the Portgordon coast while work is being done – meaning he will only have two months worth of mackerel catches to rely on.

The fisherman received initial compensation from SSE for preparatory works but will not receive anything during the next three years of work, which could cost him up to £40,000.

Last night John Cox, co-vice chairman of the Moray Firth Inshore Fisherman’s Association called for a “radical shake-up” of fisheries management to end disagreements between small and large operators.

Mr Cox said: “I’m aware that due to cable works that fishermen have been displaced from certain grounds, which will lead to them going into other grounds and being in more competition with others.

“There seems to be a lack of support for some form of compensation. Only some people have been looked after.

“There’s a lot more displacement in the Moray Firth now and a lot more activity from the larger boats fishing for squid.”

Mr Brown warned that without financial support his ambition to introduce “fresh blood” to life on the waves could be put in jeopardy.

He added: “It’s a massive industry. Buckie was built on the fishing industry, all the villages along the coast are the same.

“I started up my own company and wanted to train up a deck-hand as an apprentice to help young people into the industry. That’ll be a lot harder without compensation for my loss of earnings.”

A spokeswoman for SSE said: “Beatrice Offshore Wind Limited has been liaising with local fishermen throughout the development of the Beatrice offshore wind farm project.“We have been continuing to liaise with the fishermen who work in and around the wind farm and export cable route construction areas to reach agreements on cooperation that are fair to all parties.”
The Press & Journal

What comfort it must be for Scotland’s Trawlermen to have the company hell-bent on destroying their businesses continually ‘liaising’ with them? That stock-standard, stone-walling approach is guaranteed to leave them without a fishery and without so much as a penny in compensation. The fishermen can bank on it.

Turbines 1: Trawlermen 0

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.


  1. Thomas Fox says:

    Could a large ship with engine failure drift into the towers during stormy conditions ,making salvage difficult ?

  2. The same thing is happening over here in the U.S. off of New England and New York. I’m not against wind power but why don’t they place these structures offshore in deeper and less-fished waters out of sight of land? Wouldn’t it be possible to have wind turbines designed with submerged and ballasted bases similar to those of some oil rigs on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. A series of anchors would then connect the structures and ensure their position relative to wind direction. I’ve also read that sound is an issue with these things when stationed on land and near populated areas. Placing wind turbines on prime fishing grounds seems to be done purely for economic purposes to the utter detriment of the historic users of these ocean spaces.

    • Geordie, spend some time on this site and you won’t be in favour of wind power for long.

    • I have a suspicion that the chief purpose, and certainly one of the major effects, of wind turbine advocacy is to buttress the Fossil Carbon industry against the only thing that can put them out of business. If they succeed, the world as Europe, USA, and Australia know it, is doomed.
      An intermittent supply of wind sufficed for thousands of years to provide the fastest class of oceanic transportation, whether commercial, military, or migratory.
      An intermittent supply of electric power is worthless to an AC electric grid.
      And by the way, infrasound travels further and faster in the sea, in more of the denizens are sensitive to it. Any marine beast with a long lateral line of sound detection, can be troubled by it.

    • Geordie, I shall try to offer you a few ugly reasons why you should be against wind powered electricity.
      It is ugly.
      It is financially very far from ‘Free”
      It is environmentally expensive in more ways than I care to list.
      Finally, and this alone suffices, it bloody does not WORK.

      As a way to put fossil carbon out of business, it is a complete failure. If your wind turbine armada is producing 1000 MW in a 10 m/s wind (that’s metres/second, quite a strong breeze) and the wind drops to a miserable 9 m/s (i.e. 10%) in ten minutes, the power of the wind, being proportional to the cube of the wind speed, drops to 648 MW in those ten minutes.
      Where do you get the missing 52 MW in those ten minutes? The customary way is to have up to a 1000 MW of gas turbine capacity (or more) running on idle. It’s called spinning reserve. It is like a motor car at a stop light

  3. Jackie Rovensky says:

    The fisherman’s livelihood will be destroyed no matter what comes of the ‘liaising’. That word only means one thing to the wind industry – our way or no way.
    But the fisherman are not the only ones who will be destroyed so to will the creatures of the oceans. There is already research being undertaken into the effects on whales, and no doubt if they are affected so to will be other sea creatures and organisms.
    Nothing is immune from this industries take-over. They have a ‘scorched earth policy’ – take over and destroy.
    They are only interested in one thing and that is not saving the earth, but to maker as much money out of others and give nothing in return and Governments and other idiots around the world are allowing it to happen.

  4. I dont believe this.. Talk about abuse of power and the human element of hitting the fishermen. The oceans will be an eyesore and the area will certainly be off limits.

    The maintenance cost alone will be incredible considering the turbines will have to be maintained and replaced eventually at sea. Another waste of taxpayers money when for the 2.6 Billion they could of built clean coal power stations that would provide power IN ALL WEATHER.

    They talk about environmental disasters and this is one. Surely seabirds will be effected by these monsters. Pity on any bird that decides to rest or roost on one of these turbines. What a disaster.

    I assume the price of seafood will rise as well and many fishermen put out of work.

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