Belgium, once abundant in flat oysters, has recently experienced a decline in their amount due to overfishing and the onset of diseases. This decline has posed a formidable challenge to flat oyster aquaculture in its traditional rearing locations.
In response to this issue, the UNITED project is actively exploring the potential of offshore wind farms as catalysts for the rejuvenation of flat oyster reefs. Teaming up with Parkwind, one of the key players in offshore wind energy production, UNITED endeavors to establish a symbiotic relationship between aquaculture and oyster reef restoration.
The offshore wind farm, operated by Parkwind in Belgian territorial waters, is one of the pilot sites for this initiative. The prohibition of bottom fishing within this wind farm ensures the protection of potential oyster reefs. Additionally, the hard substrate utilized as scour protection around wind turbine poles offers an optimal environment for the settlement of oyster larvae. Consequently, aquaculture supports reef restoration efforts, while the reefs provide vital larvae for the aquaculture sector.
This promising synergy between aquaculture and restoration not only promises the revival of flat oysters in Belgium but also provides a model for other multi-use sites, addressing both environmental concerns and economic objectives.
Learn more about UNITED and its pilot sites on the official website of the project: https://www.h2020united.eu/