Is our turbulent North Sea suitable for Aquaculture?

(22-05-2017) Ghent University and the Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO) have launched the project "North Sea Aquaculture".

Ghent University and the Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO) have launched the project "North Sea Aquaculture", together with their partners: Belwind, Brevisco, C-Power, Colruyt Group, DEME Group, Lobster Fish, OD Natuur and Sioen Industries. In this groundbreaking research on shellfish and seaweed culture the efficient use of the Belgian North Sea is being explored in a unique and integrated way, as well as innovative cultivation techniques and the market potential of these new regional products.

The project

This ambitious test project is being launched with Flemish and European resources at different locations in the North Sea: near the coast of Nieuwpoort (oysters, seaweed and scallops) and 30 to 50 kilometers off shore 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.
  • a possible collaboration with existing activities in wind farms.
  • how the final product can be profitable on the market.
  • the impact of aquaculture on the water quality of the North Sea.

In May 2017, a first growing system for mussels is being installed in the C-Power wind farm. On this location the focus will be on mussel growth research. The second mussel culture line will be placed in the Belwind concession. There, the effect 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 on the coast of Nieuwpoort.

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