Name: Femke de Boer
Role: Commercial Fisheries Specialist
Years in the energy industry: None, worked 4.5 years for the fishing industry
Time at Xodus: Started in November 2021
How did you become a commercial fisheries specialist?
After my bachelors 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 impacts new developments could have on the fishing industry and discussed ways to mitigate the 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 supporting 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 does want to be heard and listened to as every offshore wind farm will potentially mean lost fishing grounds. It is not possible for every fishing vessel to fish inside a wind farm and it is not yet clear what the benefits of offshore wind farms are for the fishing industry or even if there are any.
As ScotWind means more offshore wind farms, collaboration between the two sectors has never been more important. The fishing industry needs to accept that offshore wind is here to stay, whilst the offshore renewable developers will need to accept that work with the with the fishing industry as a key stakeholder is very important.
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 from 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!