Sea farm for Belgian mussels
With an innovative sea farm off the Belgian coast, Westdiep, aims to meet the growing demand for sustainable protein-rich food. Research has shown that the Belgian North Sea is suitable for cultivating mussels. With the necessary permits, we started building the first phase of the first sea farm in Belgium.
First commercial sea farm in Belgium
As a retailer, we are actively working on innovative solutions to meet the growing demand for balanced and sustainable protein sources. In that context, we also strongly believe in the potential of the Belgian North Sea for the local cultivation of mussels, oysters and seaweed. In early 2022, we started developing our own commercial sea farm off the Belgian coast: sea farm Westdiep. A project that will benefit both biodiversity and employment.
Off the Belgian West Coast
Sea farm Westdiep is located off the coast of Nieuwpoort and Koksijde in project zone C, as foreseen in the Marine Spatial Plan. In the start-up phase (2022-2023), we will use a quarter of the zone, afterwards, we will expand to the entire zone. The zone is particularly well suited for the production of mussels, oysters and seaweed thanks to the presence of numerous nutrients and the good water quality. To ensure the safety of all boats, the sea farm is clearly demarcated by three types of buoys and a safety platform that monitors 24/7 traffic at sea in Zone C.
The cultivation of mussels, seaweed and oysters at open sea is an extractive, eco-friendly form of aquaculture in which the shellfish obtain their nutrients from the seawater and nothing is added to the ecosystem. Moreover, a marine farm can serve as a refuge for fish and other marine life, as fishing and recreational boating are prohibited within the zone. This promotes biodiversity in the Belgian North Sea. Cultivation of mussels uses long line or ‘hanging culture’ technology: culture structures that are attached to strongly anchored ropes and buoys under water and that sway along with the sea current.
Belgian mussels in the store
In spring 2022, we will install 50 growing longlines. If all goes well and the quality is to the liking of the customer, we will scale up. We expect a first full Belgian mussel season in the summer of 2023. In the meantime, we are also investigating the feasibility of cultivating seaweed and oysters, both of which are nutritious and sustainable sources of protein.