In search of Belgian mussels!
Is there a more Belgian dish than mussels? Yes, Belgian mussels! And that’s no pipedream, because we’re working on pilot projects to grow shellfish and seaweed off our North Sea coast. This would allow us to respond better to the rising demand, and benefit from quality, freshness and sustainability!
Alternative sources of protein
Over the next few years, shellfish and seaweed (products) will become more common on our menus. They are low in fat and have an excellent protein composition which makes them good alternatives to meat.
By taking part in the North Sea Aquaculture test project, we have literally laid the foundations for the future of Belgian aquaculture products," says engineer Wannes Voorend. We’ve been able to establish that our North Sea is suitable for shellfish and seaweed farming. Biologically speaking, the conditions are excellent. The cultivated mussels, oysters and seaweeds are therefore genuinely natural products. Providing an excellent alternative to meat.
Clever harvesting methods on a rough sea
Previous test projects have shown that farming in the North Sea certainly presents technical challenges. Being able to harvest efficiently at sea in all weathers is one of the challenges.
"Now is the time to make further investments in developing efficient production methods and smart sensors, to further investigate environmental impact and refine the figures. This is our aim to do this within the SYMAPA research project" (https://www.blauwecluster.be/project/symapa-synergy-between-mariculture-passive-fisheries)”
The SYMAPA test project is taking place just off the coast of Nieuwpoort. One of the objectives is to develop resistant and safe production and harvesting systems. Sensors and smart software make it possible to predict maintenance and harvest times. Wannes: “This represents a very important step for Belgian cultivation. But there’s no need to worry, mussels are definitely going to be on the menu again!”
With Flemish and European backing
The North Sea Aquaculture test project received support from the Flemish government and the European Fund for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs. North Sea Aquaculture was an initiative of Ghent University and the Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO), together with private partners including Colruyt Group. The research project SYMAPA is supported by the Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO). Colruyt Group is coordinating the collaboration with private partners and research institutions for this project.
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.