Oyster reef restoration

Oyster reef restoration

The Dutch part of the North Sea used to be covered with European flat oyster beds. However, a majority of the reefs have disappeared, leaving the Dutch flat oysters practically extinct. These oyster reefs are of great value: the reefs of the European native oyster are at the base of an entire ecosystem. They provide food and shelter for fish and other marine species, but they also filter the seawater, increasing the water quality.

Oysters improve the water quality by filtering small particles and contaminants from the water as they feed. A single oyster can filter between 20 and 50 liters of water per day. Oyster reefs can help improve water quality by removing excess nutrients, sediment, and pollutants, which can lead to clearer and healthier coastal waters. 

Oyster shells are composed primarily of calcium carbonate, which can absorb and store carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. When oyster shells are deposited on reefs or used in restoration efforts, they can contribute to carbon sequestration.

Therefore, oysters form the foundation of marine biodiversity, and there are ongoing efforts to restore them. This is typically achieved by creating shelters, such as artificial reefs, for oysters and other sea creatures. These reefs provide protection and feeding grounds for both juveniles and adults of numerous species.

Mecal/ATS is ambitious to create a net positive impact in the world and focuses on projects that contribute to reef restoration. This particular project centers on the restoration of oyster reefs using a small, minimally invasive product designed to distribute oyster larvae across the seabed, thereby enhancing their chances of survival.

Mecal/ATS’s expertise lies in the development of a lean manufacturing method for oyster carrying structures, featuring the most desired shape and material. We are collaborating with organizations such as Wageningen Marine Research and De Rijke Noordzee to promote a more resilient and biodiverse Dutch North Sea.