Animal displacement from marine energy development: Mechanisms and consequences

Lenaïg G. Hemery*, Lysel Garavelli, Andrea E. Copping, Hayley Farr, Kristin Jones, Nicholas Baker-Horne, Louise Kregting, Louise P. McGarry, Carol Sparling, Emma Verling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


For marine wave and tidal energy to successfully contribute to global renewable energy goals and climate change mitigation, marine energy projects need to expand beyond small deployments to large-scale arrays. However, with large-scale projects come potential environmental effects not observed at the scales of single devices and small arrays. One of these effects is the risk of displacing marine animals from their preferred habitats or their migration routes, which may increase with the size of arrays and location. Many marine animals may be susceptible to some level of displacement once large marine energy arrays are increasingly integrated into the seascape, including large migratory animals, non-migratory pelagic animals with large home ranges, and benthic and demersal mobile organisms with more limited ranges, among many others. Yet, research around the mechanisms and effects of displacement have been hindered by the lack of clarity within the international marine energy community regarding the definition of displacement, how it occurs, its consequences, species of concern, and methods to investigate the outcomes. This review paper leveraged lessons learned from other industries, such as offshore development, to establish a definition of displacement in the marine energy context, explore which functional groups of marine animals may be affected and in what way, and identify pathways for investigating displacement through modeling and monitoring. In the marine energy context, we defined displacement as the outcome of one of three mechanisms (i.e., attraction, avoidance, and exclusion) triggered by an animal's response to one or more stressors acting as a disturbance, with various consequences at the individual through population levels. The knowledge gaps highlighted in this study will help the regulatory and scientific communities prepare for mitigating, observing, measuring, and characterizing displacement of various animals around marine energy arrays in order to prevent irreversible consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number170390
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2024


  • Attraction
  • Avoidance
  • Displacement
  • Exclusion
  • Marine energy
  • Receptor
  • Stressor


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