Reducing Risks Whilst Fishing

It is essential to be aware of the locations of subsea cables and renewable energy infrastructure, when fishing in the vicinity of such structures. It is essential you have all the information in relation to their positions available to you and the KIS-ORCA project is designed to provide exactly that for all seabed users. Charts, fishing plotter files and an interactive map, showing subsea cables and renewable energy structures surrounding the UK, may be viewed or downloaded, free of charge.

Download the latest charts and plotter files from here.

Current Regulation

The risks associated with fishing around offshore structures and submarine cables has been widely discussed. Nevertheless, the risks still remain and it is important fishermen are aware of these and also have the best possible information to hand.

Regulations governing how close fishermen can sail to renewables structures (turbines and substations) was issued in 2007 and states that whilst under construction, during repair, or major maintenance, a 500m safety zone applies to turbines etc, but thereafter during normal operations, an opertor may apply for a 50m safety zone.  This was agreed after consultation with all stakeholders as the best solution and keep disruption to mariners to a minimum.  More details can be found here: (Safety Zone Explanatory Memo).

Fishing in areas where submarine cables exist are still governed by archaic laws, however, a modern and sensible approach must be applied to this area of operation. The greatest level of risk to vessels engaged in fishing operations, are to those which penetrate the seabed in any way such as trawling, dredging and anchors from nets or crab/lobster pots.

Snagging a Cable

The most serious risk affecting fishermen when fishing in areas where submarine cables exist, is to snag their gear on a cable. Submarine cables are initially buried on installation, although may become exposed due to current and seabed erosion. It is therefore best to avoid fishing in such areas, if at all possible. Operators of subsea cables are aware that fishing does take place in the vicinity of cables, however, it must be stressed how important it is to take extreme caution when doing so. A vessel and it's crew could become in danger if a vessel attempts to lift a cable from the seabed.

If you do foul a cable, make sure you follow the emergency procedures to safeguard your vessel and your crew.

The following sequence of events shows what can happen if a vessel fouls a submarine cable.

The Potential Consequences of Snagging a Subsea Cable
Snagging_1 Snagging_2 Snagging_3
Snagging_4 Snagging_5 Snagging_6


Fishing within a Windfarm Area

Current legislation does not prohibit fishing from taking place within offshore windfarm areas. As stated above, operators may apply for a 50m safety zone in place around turbines and offshore substations during normal operations. When remedial work, or maintenance is being carried out, this safety zone is extended to 500m.

Smaller fishing vessels may decide to work within the confines of wind farms, working crab/lobster pots, gill nets, etc. As described in other areas of this site, each turbine is linked to the next by a subsea cable and where the cable joins up with the turbine, there is potential for snagging on these sections. Therefore, if fishing using ground gear within wind farms, extreme caution should be taken at all times.

Due to the presence of so many submarine cables and surface structures in a windfarm area, other types of fishing such as trawling or dredging is unlikely to take place, especially from larger vessels. This is due to their restricted ability to manouvre, due to potential winds and currents and the penetrative nature of their gear, which would enhance the risks of snagging.