New Wave Media

July 3, 2024

Jan de Nul, Partners Launch First Large-Scale Oyster Reef Restoration in Belgian North Sea

(Credit: Jan de Nul)

(Credit: Jan de Nul)

Jan De Nul Group, the Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Shells & Valves and Mantis Consulting have launched a BELREEFS project, a first offshore pilot for large-scale oyster reef restoration in Belgian North Sea.

Industry and science join forces to tackle the challenges of restoring oyster reefs, a complex operation that requires innovation and creative solutions.

The complexity of the logistical support, and the sensitivity of oysters to disturbance (during seeding, transport and installation at sea), requires in-depth knowledge covering different fields of expertise.

Aside from many innovations to be implemented in the pilot, BELREEFS will also use 'remote setting', a technique in which they allow oyster larvae to settle directly on a suitable substrate in the lab, to release them into the sea afterwards. Once installed, the oysters will be followed for several years through an intensive monitoring program.

"We want to create an oyster reef that is self-sustaining. Our ambition is to create long-term nature restoration, without further human intervention. One of the choices we are making to achieve this, is to install the oyster reefs where they historically occurred: at the so-called gravel beds,” said Vicky Stratigaki, engineer and project coordinator for BELREEFS at Jan De Nul Group.

"To maximize the survival and reproduction of oyster reefs, we identify locations with the most suitable seabed and environmental conditions. Additionally, natural protection from damage and optimal placement conditions are crucial. Therefore, we will conduct a detailed mapping of the seabed,” Vera added Van Lancker and Steven Degraer, Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

The February 2024 edition of Marine Technology Reporter is focused on Oceanographic topics and technologies.
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