Starfish love offshore wind farms according to Whitstable oyster fishermen, and they claim plans to construct 17 new turbines alongside the existing 30 on the Kentish Flats sandbanks could see their fishery devastated by plagues of the stellar echinoderms.
The fishermen say that the construction of the original turbines in 2005 coincided with a dramatic increase in starfish numbers attracted by the sea bed disturbance, and that their livelihoods will be further threatened by the oyster-loving starfish if the new development is given the green light.
Bosses at wind turbine company Vattenfall, who are currently in the public consultation phase of planning, said that while it was agreed there was scientific evidence of increased starfish populations as an immediate result of sea bed disturbance, they did not believe the wind farm had caused a long term increase in population. But they pledged to monitor the situation and said that compensation for fishermen who suffered losses during the installation had been agreed in principle.
If constructed the new turbines could produce enough electricity to power 96,000 homes.
There are around 1,800 known species of starfish worldwide, many of which are dedicated to the consumption of molluscs such as oysters which they pry apart with their strong arms before inserting their stomach inside to digest the unlucky bivalve in situ.
Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.