Monday, July 26, 2021
Innovative collaborative project with Belgian partners
Installation work to begin in autumn, and in summer the focus will be on safety
Colruyt Group is constructing the sea farm in phases and the first milestone will be the cultivation of genuine Belgian mussels. “It is an inherent part of any project of this nature that we still have a lot to learn which is why we have been holding discussions over the last six months with many inspiring Belgian firms and institutions to exchange knowledge and enter into partnerships,” said Jeroen Theys, Managing Director of Smart Technics at Colruyt Group who is responsible for the engineering and the construction of the sea farm.
For instance, together with the technical consultancy firm Vincotte, the firm will ensure that the installation is designed in conformity with recognised international standards for maritime aquaculture, the chosen materials are sustainable, and they meet strict safety standards. “We place great importance in particular on the use of sustainable materials”, confirmed Jeroen Theys. “Especially when you consider that these materials will spend at least 20 years immersed in the water. That is why we have surrounded ourselves with experts, and where possible we have made a conscious choice for Belgian firms. For instance, we relied on the engineering firm IMDC for the environmental impact report, MULTI.engineering and Ghent University for the load calculations of the mussel lines and their foundations in the seabed, and EXSIL, a company from Dendermonde that specialises in the manufacture of cords, which will supply ropes. Parkwind, the offshore wind developer of Colruyt Group, will take care of the maritime coordination.” DEME has also come on board with us. DEME is a worldwide provider of solutions in specialised fields such as dredging, offshore energy, infrastructure, and the environment. DEME intends to expand its portfolio through a minority financial stake in Westdiep in order to maximise multiple use of space at sea.
Colruyt Group chose GEOxyz, a company from West Flanders that is specialised in underwater data and has wide-ranging international experience as a partner for the maritime work in the sea farm. In June 2021, it carried out a seabed study and mine detection in Westdiep Zone. However, the collaboration goes beyond this. GEOxyz will also be responsible for the installation and maintenance of the longline installations on which the genuine Belgian mussels will be cultivated.
Patrick Reyntjens, GEOxyz: ”We are pleased and honoured to be able to support this innovative project for Colruyt Group on our North Sea. It is fantastic that a company such as Colruyt Group believes and wants to invest in the young but growing Blue Economy. These new and growing sectors will give GEOxyz the opportunity to expand and broaden its activities. As firm believer in the Blue Economy, GEOxyz advocates an approach based on innovation, sustainability and safety. We want to use this basis to scale and export the knowledge we accumulate. In order to further support this ambition, we are constantly looking for enthusiastic staff to join our team. We will get the opportunity to participate in the building of a sustainable future...who would not want this?”
Smart Technics, an innovative start-up within Colruyt Group, is supervising these partners in the realisation of the sea farm. Smart Technics took on the engineering and project management from the beginning and will provide the offshore operational management in the future.
Safety measures are a priority
The absolute priority for Colruyt Group this summer is safety in and around the project zone. In accordance with the Royal Decree on safety distances in Belgian sea areas, a safety zone was also included around the sea farm by the Federal Government on the advice of the competent authorities such as the Management Unit of the Mathematical Model of the North Sea (BMM), the Directorate-General of Shipping of the FPS Mobility and the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC).
The purpose of this type of zone is to prevent other sea users from entering the C zone. The cultivation zone and the installation will be demarcated by means of 16 large signalling buoys. “In this way, we will ensure that seafarers do not find themselves in the zone by accident”, said Jeroen Theys, Managing Director at Colruyt Group. “Furthermore, we are taking other measures to guarantee the safety of seafarers. For instance, we are also digitally placing the sea farm on the sea maps and we are investing in a radar system that will monitor the zone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.Finally, we will continue to inform all stakeholders and keep them aware of upcoming work and changes for the Nieuwpoort coast.”
That is why the group is launching a website where anyone interested can read more about the sea farm and the progress of the work. More information is now available at https://seafarm.colruytgroup.com/.
Step-by-step positive business practices
Colruyt Group is on schedule with the selection of partners and the choice of materials for it to be able to start work on installing the first mussel lines after summer. The group is aiming to be part of the first full mussel season and offer Belgian mussels in its shops for the first time in summer 2023.
Colruyt is also continuing to focus on research and innovation in aquaculture by playing an active role in new research projects such as SYMAPA (Synergy between Mariculture and Passive Fisheries), United (reintroducing oyster beds and cultivating oysters in offshore wind farms) and Blue Marine (hatchery for seaweed, oysters and scampi) within the Blue Cluster.
If you have any questions and/or comments, please contact the Press Office of Colruyt Group at firstname.lastname@example.org / 0473 92 45 10.