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The Rich North Sea

Oysters and artificial reefs in the water for new nature in wind farm on the North Sea


Today, Natuur & Milieu, North Sea foundation (Stichting De Noordzee), Van Oord and Eneco Luchterduinen have installed cages with flat oysters and reef balls in wind farm Luchterduinen, 23 kilometres west of IJmuiden. The Rich North Sea project investigates how nature enhancement and the generation of sustainable energy can enrich each other. This pilot is made possible in part by ASN Bank.

From the port of IJmuiden, the reef structures were placed in the Eneco Luchterduinen wind farm at a depth of approximately 20 metres using a Van Oord installation vessel. The reef structures include cages with mature oysters and reef balls. The total surface area of this pilot project is 3 hectares (100 x 300m).

Monitoring of the reefs
The nature development in the wind farm will be scientifically researched by Bureau Waardenburg, Sas consultancy and Wageningen Marine Research until 2022 using underwater cameras, among other things. They will examine whether the oysters grow and reproduce sufficiently, and whether their larvae will settle in the vicinity and form a reef.

Natural reefs fulfil an important function. They filter water and are an attachment point and source of food. Unfortunately, due to human intervention and diseases, these reefs are practically no longer found in the North Sea. These organizations are now investigating the best conditions for underwater nature to flourish in wind farms at sea.

Blueprint for all wind farms
Offshore wind farms are badly needed in the fight against climate change. Therefore, the number of wind farms in the North Sea will grow strongly in the coming years. This large-scale construction of wind farms will have far-reaching consequences for both nature and spatial planning in the North Sea. Simultaneously, offshore wind farms offer opportunities to make a positive contribution to underwater nature in addition to sustainable energy.

This demonstration project contributes to a blueprint for underwater nature restoration in wind farms at sea, which can be applied to future new wind farms. Natuur & Milieu and North Sea Foundation want to encourage the growth of offshore wind farms to go hand in hand with nature conservation.

Ideal location
Bottom fishing is prohibited in wind farms. In addition, the piles of windturbines provide an attachment point for marine life. This makes wind farms the ideal location for actively enhancing underwater nature. The placed oysters produce larvae, which can create a fully-fledged reef in the area that attracts many other species, such as crabs, fish and seals. As a consequence, a wind farm serves as a nursery for underwater nature.


The Rich North Sea