An interview with… Femke de Boer

Femke de Boer  

Role – Commercial Fisheries Specialist
Time in the fisheries industry – 5 years
Time with Xodus – 3 Months

How did you become a commercial fisheries specialist? 

After my bachelor’s degree in biology, I did a master’s in applied marine and fisheries ecology and it was during this time I really became passionate about the marine environment and how we can use it as a resource.

My first job was at the Scottish White Fish Producers Association (SWFPA) where I represented commercial fishing vessels as Inshore Policy Officer, meaning I attended many meetings where stakeholders needed fisheries input. During my time at the SWFPA, I liaised with the offshore wind industry on the potential impacts that new developments could have on the fishing industry and discussed ways to mitigate any potential impact with developers, government, and other stakeholders. During this time, I learned all about the fishing industry, how it works and its people. After nearly 5 years working within the fisheries industry, I am excited to be taking what I have learnt and support both the offshore wind industry and fishing industry during what is most definitely going to be a very busy and interesting time.

Why is ScotWind exciting for your field of work?

The fishing industry is a very complex industry. It consists of many different types of catch, types of vessels and small family businesses. The fishing industry rarely speaks with one voice, but it does want to be heard and listened to, as offshore activities can potentially interfere with fishing grounds and activities. Not all types of fishing can take place inside wind farms, which can mean potential interruption to existing fishing patterns, and the potential benefits of offshore wind farms for the fishing industry are not yet completely clear.

As ScotWind means more offshore wind farms, collaboration between the two sectors has never been more important. The fishing industry needs to further develop existing relationships to engage with the long-term future of offshore wind in UK waters, whilst the offshore renewable developers need to work ever more closely with the with the fishing industry, being as they are a key stakeholder.

If you were evaluating the bids for ScotWind, what would you like to see from a Developer at this stage in the process?

I believe that it would be beneficial for offshore wind industries to start consultations as early as possible, ensuring communication and co-existence wherever possible. As the fishing industry is so diverse, their expectations of developers will be different in different regions. Early communication is the only way to identify the concerns on both sides. Therefore, if I was the regulator, I would like to see clear stakeholder engagement plans that outline how and when Developers will engage with the fishing industry.

What is the one piece of advice you would give a developer if they are awarded a licence in ScotWind?

Consult the local fishing industry, it will be important for consent approvals and the schedule of your development!