Is our turbulent North Sea suitable for aquaculture?

Is our turbulent North Sea suitable for aquaculture?

On May 22nd of 2017 Ghent University and the Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO) have launched the project “North Sea Aquaculture”, together with 7 private partners: Belwind, Brevisco, C-Power, Colruyt Group, DEME Group, Lobster Fish and Sioen Industries, and a third research institute: OD Natuur. In this groundbreaking research on shellfish and seaweed culture the following subjects are being explored in a unique and integrated way: the efficient use of the Belgian North Sea, innovative cultivation techniques and the market potential of  these new regional products.

The project

This ambitious test project is financially facilitated by Flemish and European funding. It is launched on different locations in the North Sea: near the coast of Nieuwpoort (culture of oysters, seaweed and scallops) and 30 to 50 kilometers offshore in the Belgian wind farms (mussel culture).

Within two years there should be clarity about:

  • The biological, technical and economic feasibility of shellfish and seaweed culture in the Belgian North Sea.
  • The extent of synergy with the ongoing activities in wind farms.
  • How the final product can be marketed profitably.
  • The impact of aquaculture on the water quality of the North Sea.

On May 22nd of 2017, a first growing system for mussels was installed in the C-Power wind farm. On this location, mussel growth rate and yields will be monitored. The second mussel culture line will be placed in the Belwind concession. There, the effects of the sea forces on the cultivation line will be measured. In the summer of 2017, the cultivation of oysters, seaweed and scallops will be initiated near the coast of Nieuwpoort.

This project is a worldwide scoop and puts Flanders on the world map as a knowledge and production center for seabased sustainable, integrated aquaculture in the sea. It is the result of years of intense collaboration between science and business partners.

For more information on this project, please contact Sara De Vos (Ghent University) at +32 9 264 58 72 or Sara.DeVos@UGent.be.