Future resident of Ostend Science Park, GEOxyz, on board for the construction of phase one of the Westdiep Sea Farm
Colruyt group wants to grow genuine Belgian mussels 5 kilometres off the Belgian coast in the Westdiep Zone, one of the 5 commercial zones determined in the Marien Spatial Plan. GEOxyz, which is known as an underwater data company, will not only study the seabed but also carry out the maritime work. Buoys will be used this summer to provide the necessary demarcation, and a safety platform will be installed. A new website about the project was also launched today at seafarm.colruytgroup.com to keep all stakeholders properly informed.
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.
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.