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The Rich North Sea: Oysters and artificial reefs for underwater nature restoration

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. Numerous big new wind farms are planned for the Dutch sector of the North Sea in the coming years. We aim to show that nature conservation and sustainable energy generation can be mutually beneficial.

Wind farms

The Rich North Sea project makes use of the unique conditions offered by wind farms for natural underwater features. Fishing along the sea bed is not permitted within wind farms, which enables those features to develop undisturbed.

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Artificial reefs

By installing artificial reefs and introducing oysters, we can accelerate and strengthen the development of nature within a wind farm. 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 includes reef balls and cages containing adult oysters. In the course of 2019, more cages will be positioned with different types of materials to which young oysters can attach themselves. The aim is to determine whether the oysters grow and reproduce sufficiently, and whether their larvae establish themselves in the vicinity and form a reef. This makes it possible to investigate the ideal conditions for the development of oyster beds within a wind farm.

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.

Marc Timmermans, Chief Communications, The North Sea Foundation

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