Belgian retailer Colruyt Group has announced that it has obtained an operating and environmental permit to cultivate Belgian mussels in the North Sea.
The permit will allow the retailer to implement its plans in zone C in the North Sea, located five kilometres off the coast of Nieuwpoort and Koksijde and is better known as the Westdiep zone.
It expects a first limited mussel harvest to be ready at the earliest by the autumn of 2022 and a full Belgian mussel season in 2023.
'The Very First Sea Farm'
Quality and production manager at Colruyt Group, Stefan Goethaert, said, "A lot of research and innovation has gone into this, but we are now very close to launching the very first sea farm in the North Sea."
"Growing mussels, oysters and seaweed on such a scale in the North Sea has never been done before. We also know that this will not be easy given the rough conditions and the currents in the Belgian North Sea. That's why we're doing it step by step."
In the first phase of the project, the group will use a quarter of the surface area in zone C.
It aims to set up approximately 50 mussel lines, which are estimated to yield about 250 tonnes of mussels.
Colruyt will design, construct and maintain this sea farm in collaboration with other companies.
Goethaert added, "Wherever possible, we want to give priority to local, Belgian partners. We are convinced that this project will enable us to create a new value chain in Belgium, which will allow us to contribute to local employment and innovation in the Belgian aquaculture and food sector."
The cultivation of mussels, oysters, and seaweed in the North Sea will positively impact both water quality and biodiversity in and around the farm's infrastructure, Colruyt added.
Over the coming years, the retail giant will monitor the impact of its measures and report to an evaluation committee.