Dr Matthew Ashley
Research Fellow - Social-Ecological Systems
School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)
PhD 'The implications of co-locating marine protected areas around offshore wind farms'
Matthew Ashley is a researcher within the Centre for Marine and Coastal Policy Research (MarCoPol) and Marine Conservation Research Group, University of Plymouth. Matthew's research incorporates Environmental Economics, Marine Ecology, Cultural Anthropology and Environmental Psychology to aid marine resource management and achievement of sustainable development goals. The most recent publications are:
Ashley M, Pahl S, Glegg G, et al. (2019) A Change of Mind: Applying Social and Behavioral Research Methods to the Assessment of the Effectiveness of Ocean Literacy Initiatives. Frontiers in Marine Science 6.
Ashley M, Austen, M., Rodwell, L., Mangi, S., (2018) Co-locating offshore wind farms and marine protected areas: a United Kingdom perspective in Bradshaw, C. J. A. and Yates. K., (eds) Offshore Energy and Marine Spatial Planning. Taylor & Francis Ltd. London, UK.
Hooper, T., Langmead, O., Ashley, M., (2016) Ecosystem Services in Marine Environmental Impact Assessment: tools to support marine planning at project and strategic scales in Geneletti, D., Handbook on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Impact Assessment. Research Handbooks on Impact Assessment Series. Elgar online.
‘The effects of implementing no take marine protected areas around offshore wind farms’
Keywords: Offshore windfarms, fisheries, habitat, socio economic impacts
Funding body: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Duration: October 2009 – October 2012
This project aimed to assess the feasibility of utilising offshore windfarms (OWFs) as marine protected areas (MPAs). The research focused on the economic and social issues associated with windfarms alongside the environmental issues. THe PhD research aimed to take a balanced evaluation of the true impact of marine renewables development. In particular we focused on whether the areas used for offshore windfarms are de facto MPAs. Fishing is generally allowed in these areas however turbines can hinder the use of certain fishing gears (e.g. trawls and dredges). The question then is what would be the short - and long-term consequences of closing such areas to all forms of fishing? One school of thought is that the areas provide a conservation opportunity (particularly in light of the new Marine and Coastal Access Act which highlights the need for marine conservation zones). The areas may allow the creation of a refuge from fishing, allowing new habitats to form and allow fish biomass to build up which may ultimately benefit the fisheries. However these areas (particularly Round 3 sites) will be large and the impacts on existing habitats and fisheries could be considerable. Fishing effort would be displaced to smaller fishing grounds hence increased competition and local overuse of resources.
The key objectives were
1. To identify the effects of offshore windfarms on habitats and populations
This involved conducting ecological assessments of habitat and population changes in an area as a result of OWF construction.
2. Identify how OWF impact fisheries
Analysis of fish landings and effort data from OWF regions was combined with analysis of changes in fishing locations, tactics and incomes to examine the effect of OWF development on fisheries. Questionnaire and interview techniques were used to gain fisher’s experience of the socio economic impacts of round one sites and the possible impacts of round two and three sites.
3. Assess if establishing MPAs around offshore windfarms help the UK meet conservation and fisheries management goals
We quantified the perceptions and attitudes of fishermen and other stakeholders towards OWF and the concept of utilizing OWFs as NTZs. In combination with the findings from analysis of habitat change in OWF, effects on fish populations and socio-economic impact to fisheries, this question established a holistic study of the potential of OWF as no take marine protected areas.
Key publications are highlightedJournals