Van Oord will install 8 reef structures with oysters in Borssele V innovation site

© Van Oord

Van Oord will place a total of eight different reef structures with oysters underwater within the Borssele V innovation site. It is the next step in a research programme relating to the restoration of European flat oyster beds.

Oyster reefs are the basis for a healthy, thriving underwater life. Over a century ago, one-fifth of the Dutch part of the North Sea was covered with European flat oyster beds, but these have disappeared, due to overfishing, habitat destruction and disease.

Because of the designation of marine protected areas and the construction of offshore wind farms, areas with undisturbed seafloor are increasing. This offers an opportunity to restore oyster reefs in the North Sea.

The Borssele V innovation site is used to facilitate research to enable the recovery of oyster reefs in the North Sea. Van Oord is doing this within the framework of the Two Towers consortium, also consisting of Investri Offshore and Green Giraffe. In 2018, the consortium was awarded the concession for the innovation plot located approximately 20 km off the coast of Zeeland, next to the Borssele 1 & 2 and Borssele III & IV wind farms.

The wind farm consists of 2 wind turbines from MHI Vestas, each with a capacity of 9.5 MW. An environmentally friendly scour protection, the so-called Ecoscour, is applied to the turbines. Eight different offshore reef structures will be placed on the two scour protections.

By releasing the oysters on the reef structures in various ways, such as such as contained, loose and pre settled, it can be determined which method ultimately works best for establishing oyster reefs on scour protection. In addition, the research should gain knowledge about the stage of life in which the European flat oyster can best be deployed on scour protection: for instance adult oysters or juvenile oysters / spat or a combination of both.

Van Oord is collaborating on the project with Wageningen Marine Research, HZ University of Applied Sciences, Bureau Waardenburg and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ).