Offshore wind farms will reintroduce oyster reefs in the North Sea

Wind farm developers ├śrsted and Van Oord have joined forces to install innovative oyster structures at offshore wind farms Borssele 1&2. The aim is to reintroduce European flat oysters and thereby improve biodiversity and the ecosystem around the wind farms.

Ecosystems in the sea

Oyster reefs make an important contribution to the ecosystem and increasing biodiversity in the North Sea. Consider improving water quality through filtration and providing habitat, food and available shelter for fish and shellfish. While 150 years ago 20% of the bottom of the Dutch North Sea was occupied by flat oysters, that population declined rapidly in the 20th century as a result of large-scale fishing and infections with parasites.

Wind farm proves to be a successful breeding ground

In 2020, at the initiative of De Rijke Noordzee and the Blauwwind wind farm consortium, 2,400 flat oysters were already released around the foundations of wind turbines in Borssele III & IV. The aim was to investigate whether oysters can settle permanently in the wind farm and whether this will attract new nature. It has recently emerged that the transferred oysters have produced offspring. This provides proof that an offshore wind farm can be a suitable location as a breeding ground for flat oysters.

Approach

├śrsted and Van Oord have also been working for some time to reintroduce the European flat oyster in the Dutch North Sea. Under the heading ' Ocean Health ', this has now led to the development of handy oyster constructions. What is special about this is that only a small vehicle is needed to install these, so that they can be taken along easily and cost-efficiently during regular maintenance work.

The new oyster constructions have been designed and tested by Van Oord and the Delft University of Technology, and have been found suitable for large-scale application. As a result, they will be deployed at the Borssele 1 & 2 wind farm in Zeeland from 2024.

Photo: Van Oord

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