Oyster beds are of great value for underwater life, but in the North Sea they have almost completely disappeared. Wageningen Marine Research is working on the recovery of the flat oyster in collaboration with the wind energy sector and nature organisations, making use of wind farms in the North Sea.
The value of oyster beds
Oyster beds are of great value for marine life. They filter the sea water and form a resting and spawning area for fish, which in turn attract sharks, rays, porpoises and seals. However, due to overfishing, diseases and pollution, the flat oyster reefs in the North Sea have almost completely disappeared.
Monitoring cages and disease-free oysters
Pauline Kamermans, researcher at Wageningen Marine Research, is committed to reducing the oyster beds. For her research she places monitoring cages with oysters in the North Sea that she regularly brings to the surface to follow the development. Kamermans, together with the Roem van Yerseke hatchery, is also intensively involved in the cultivation of disease-free oysters from an infected source area, something that is not done anywhere else in the Netherlands.
Four pilots in wind farms
Seven pilots are currently running, four of them around wind farms. Wind farms are very suitable locations for research because there are few fishermen, leaving the seabed untouched. The first results of the research are promising: the flat oysters that were introduced this year survive well and reproduce. In the spring of 2019, Kamermans brought the monitoring cages up again to see if the larvae had settled. If the oyster beds can survive on their own over time, the entire underwater life in the North Sea will benefit.
Flat Oyster Consortium
The research is being carried out in collaboration with SAS Consultancy and Bureau Waardenburg and various nature organisations are involved, such as World Wildlife Fund, ARK Nature development, Nature & Environment and Stichting De Noordzee.