Monitoring of the effects of the shellfish farm 'Westdiep' on macrobenthos

13 December 2022 → 31 December 2023
Federal funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Marine ecology
    • Aquatic biology
shellfish aquaculture impact macrobenthos sediment marine
Project description

On the 9th of December 2020, CODEVCO NV was granted a permission to construct and exploit an aquaculture project in the industrial and commercial zone C of the Natura2000 area (Westdiep) in the marine areas under Belgium's jurisdiction.

Pursuant to those decrees and the Royal Decree of 9 September 2003 on the rules on environmental impact assessment in application of the Law of 20 January 1999 on the protection of the marine environment in marine areas under Belgium's jurisdiction, monitoring programmes and permanent environmental impact studies are carried out by, or on behalf of, MUMM, at the expense of the holder of the permits or authorisations. This shall include monitoring of the effects of authorised and licensed activities on the macrobenthos.

The objectives of this monitoring are:

(1) to determine the status of the macrobenthic endofauna (macrobenthos) of soft substrates in the CODEVCO concession area, and (2) to identify the potential effects of the installation and exploitation of the shellfish farm.

Special attention is given to:

- the impact of the construction and exploitation of the shellfish farm (incl. sedimentation and organic enrichment) on macrobenthos of soft sediments

- evolution of the benthic ecosystem following installation of the shellfish farm (i.e. succession): which dynamic equilibrium is obtained after which time?

- the importance of the three potentially most important effects during succession:

- organic enrichtment of the sediment habitat as a result of deposition of shellfish and their faecal pellets

- change in substrate type (fining and/or enrichment of the shell fraction of the sediment)

- change in composition of macrobenthos as a result of the formation of shellfish aggregations that dropped down from the longlines.