Updates from the Belgian pilot – good outlook for the flat oyster!

In spite of some delays due to the COVID-19 crisis, the first flat oyster (Ostrea edulis) aquaculture structures and restoration tables have been set out in the Belgian part of the North Sea during the past summer months. Equipped with safety helmets and mouth masks, the UGent, Brevisco, ILVO, and Jan De Nul teams sailed out with the vessel Stream (Brevisco) and successfully accomplished the first four sea missions nearshore. The two main goals were to install frames – designed by Brevisco and UGent and produced by Brevisco – on longlines to collect wild oyster spat from the environment, and to test the potential for a restoration habitat to form natural flat oyster reefs at the nearshore site of Westdiep (5km off the shore of Nieuwpoort). For the restoration part, different types of nature-inclusive scour protection, arranged in a restoration table designed and produced by Jan De Nul, will be tested for colonisation by flat oyster larvae. The best performing scour material will be selected and applied at the offshore site (start-up in April 2021). Additionally, the aquaculture potential for flat oyster of the nearshore site will be evaluated. Up next is to evaluate the first results and to start up the co-cultivation with sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) in autumn 2020.


Figures 1 and 2: A flat oyster (Ostrea edulis) collection frame (design by Brevisco and UGent and production by Brevisco) and a restoration table (design and production by Jan De Nul) on board of vessel Stream (Brevisco) to be set out at the nearshore site of the Belgian pilot within the HORIZON 2020 UNITED-project.

For more information on the project, please visit the websites:https://www.h2020united.eu/ and https://www.ugent.be/bw/asae/en/research/aquaculture/research/projects/united.htm