3 May 2013

Lobsters to be bred near offshore wind farms

7:08 am on 3 May 2013

New wind farms in the North Sea off the coast of Germany will be used as a habitat that could help restore the lobster population near Heligoland.

Bombing of U-boat base during and after World War II drove the lobsters away.

Biologists at the Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research are breeding 3000 lobsters to be released next year into the Borkum Riffgat offshore wind farm near the island, 70km off the coast.

The island had a thriving fishing industry before it became a fortress in the war, when it was bombed by the Allies and later used for target practice. It is now a tourist resort.

"The new wind parks mean lobsters may settle in a new habitat, because the stony foundations offer a favourable environment," said project leader Heinz-Dieter Franke.

The 700,000 euro ($US923,500) scheme is funded by compensation paid to the state of Lower Saxony by EWE for any potential ecological damage caused by the construction of the wind park.

The money will fund breeding, reintroduction and monitoring of the lobsters for roughly two years.

"We could have 5000 wind farms by 2030, so if it works, this kind of project could have a huge effect on the lobster population," Franke said.

He estimated that wind farms could help increase the lobster population to as many as 300,000 lobsters in the area around Heligoland in the long run from 50,000 to 100,000 now.

In one of the biggest bombing runs on Heligoland during the war, the Allied air force destroyed almost every building on the island, raining down 7000 bombs in a two-hour raid on 18, April, 1945.

For five years after the war, Britain used Heligoland for target practice. In 1947 7000 tonnes worth of explosives were used to blow up U-boat pens there.