The Rich North Sea: Oysters and artificial reefs for underwater nature restoration
Together with the North Sea Foundation and the Natuur & Milieu organisation, Van Oord and Eneco Luchterduinen are doing a unique project to restore natural underwater features around wind farms: 'the Rich North Sea'. The first demonstration project will provide know-how and contribute to a blueprint for underwater nature restoration at all offshore wind farms, so that this can soon become standard when constructing new wind farms. The aim is to show that nature conservation and sustainable energy generation can be mutually beneficial.
Collaborating with Van Oord has made it possible to fulfil our dream of strengthening nature within offshore wind farms. Van Oord has been involved from the planning stage on, and with its knowhow, expertise, and enthusiasm has made valuable contributions to the project at every step of the way. We look forward to carrying out more fine nature projects together with Van Oord in the future.
The first results
Van Oord’s installation vessel HAM 602 took the reef structures out to sea and positioned them at a depth of approximately 20 metres within Eneco’s Luchterduinen wind farm. The artificial reef included reef balls and cages containing adult oysters. The first results of the monitoring expedition indicated that the current oyster cage design is not fit for the prevailing conditions at the Eneco Luchterduinen wind farm test site. Several cages had become partly buried in sand, causing the death of oysters. The survival of oysters in cages not buried by sand was about 80%. Both the surviving and deceased oysters showed signs of growth, indicating that under more favourable design conditions, oysters can survive and grow well in offshore windfarms. In addition, larvae were found in the oysters and in the water, which shows that the oysters reproduced.
Taking the next step
Early 2020 the Rich North S.E.A. expanded its partnership with a cooperation agreement. Together with Blauwwind, Tennet, Eneco, Ørsted, Natuur & Milieu and Stichting De Noordzee we share the common goal under this agreement: a healthy North Sea, source of sustainable energy, rich in nature and full of life. This goal includes making use of offshore wind farms as nurseries for underwater nature. The Rich North Sea is supported by the ‘Droomfonds’ (Dream Fund) of the Dutch Postcode Lottery. In 2019 the Dream Fund granted the Rich North Sea 8.5 million euros to accelerate its efforts on the North Sea over the coming years.
A strong collaboration between the wind sector and nature organisations. Innovation on the seabed in wind farms with the ultimate goal of a healthy North Sea.
Related U.N. Sustainable Development Goals
- industry innovation infrastructure
- climate action
- life below water
- partnership goals