Wind farms to lure back German lobsters decimated by WW2

Thu May 2, 2013 12:33pm EDT
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN (Reuters) - New wind farms off Germany's North Sea coast will provide an ideal habitat that could help restore the lobster population near Heligoland after British bombing during and after World War II drove them away.

Biologists at the Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research are breeding 3,000 lobsters to be released next year into the Borkum Riffgat offshore wind farm near the island 70 km off the German-Dutch coast.

The 1.5 square km island had a thriving fishing industry before it became a Nazi fortress in the war, pounded by Allied bombs, and then later used for target practice. It is now a tourist resort.

Billions of euros of investment in wind turbines as part of Germany's ambitious transition to renewable energy has given the scheme impetus. Lobsters, whose local population is 90 percent smaller than it was 70 years ago, need a firm seabed to thrive.

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

The 700,000 euro ($923,500) scheme is funded by compensation paid to the state of Lower Saxony by utility EWE for any potential ecological damage caused by the construction of its wind park. The money will fund breeding, reintroduction and monitoring of the lobsters for roughly two years.

"With Germany's shift to renewables, we could have 5,000 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.   Continued...

 
A European lobster (Hommarus gammarus) is pictured in a breeding station at the Alfred-Wegener institute (AWI) on the German island of Heligoland, about 46 kilometres away from the German coastline, April 30, 2013. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer