The impacts of the future Gulf of Riga windfarm on marine life are being studied by scientists and Eesti Energia in 15 locations.
Several studies will be carried out over the next two to three years to assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the proposed offshore wind farm, which is planned in the Gulf of Riga, 10 km away from the island of Kihnu.
Sample catches are carried out in the vicinity of the proposed wind farm to determine the types and numbers of fish. The nets are then transported to the Pärnu base of the Estonian Marine Institute of the University of Tartu, where a laborious task awaits: to remove fish from gill-nets one by one.
However, the survey has revealed a wealth of information so far.
"Whether it's a spawning fish, for example, or a big group of fish on their way to their breeding grounds - all of these factors should be documented and studied," said Heli Shpilev, a marine institute researcher.
"In general, we have a lot of herring here, as we always do in the Gulf of Riga; however, at this time of year there are no large concentrations of it in their usual feeding grounds; they are now rather dispersed across the gulf," said Shpilev, and added that a few smelt and fourhorn sculpin were also discovered alongside the herring.
"There will almost certainly be shorthorn sculpin, or bull-rout. Both the fourhorn sculpin and the shorthorn sculpin are demersal fish. That is why we fish near the bottom in order to capture the entire fish range," said Shpilev.
Currently, the development of the wind farm is in the environmental impact assessment phase where the environmental research company Skepast & Puhkim OÜ is assessing the possible significant environmental and cumulative impacts associated with the construction and operation of the offshore farm.
Editor: Kristina Kersa