Marine conservation:
Ecological Restoration
of the native oyster species Ostrea edulis

Photo: AWI/Mueller-Elsner

Restoration Projects Germany

PROCEED

Background:

Important preliminary results of the initial German restoration project RESTORE identified an essential need for a sustainable production of seed oysters of the European flat oyster. Because all of the natural oyster beds are extinct in the German Bight, a continuous supply with healthy seed oysters is a basic requirement to achieve a successful restoration of the European flat oyster Ostrea edulishere. 

PROCEED project

Project beneficiary: Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Bremerhaven
Project funding: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz, BfN) through the Federal Program for Biodiversity
Project term: 2018 – 2024

Following the recommendations of RESTORE, PROCEED is engaged in implementing an oyster hatchery on the German offshore island Helgoland to establish a healthy broodstock and a sufficient seed oyster production for North Sea restoration and nature conservation measures. 

Existing and upcoming biological and technical research questions within the process of seed oyster production will be addressed and results directly applied in the hatchery. PROCEEDs overall goal is to supply restoration measures in the German Bight with healthy oysters and therefore facilitate the return of the native oyster and its valuable ecosystem services.

One further goal of PROCEED is the support of the NORA network: the NORA coordination is funded within this project for two years. The aim is to facilitate the important communication and interaction between the European oyster restoration projects and therefore strengthen native oyster populations within their whole European area of distribution.

PROCEED will furthermore focus on an intensive knowledge transfer to different target groups (e.g. visitors/ tourists, nature conservationists, pupils and teachers): An interactive online knowledge platform, multiple exhibitions at different locations within Germany as well as specifically developed educational material will raise and improve a general awareness for this former native species and the importance of its restoration. Ostrea eduliswill be characterized as an ecological key-player and oyster reefs will be used as an example to explain biodiversity as a stabilizing factor for the wider ecosystem and to underline the general significance of ecosystem services.

For further Information:

Project Homepage:
https://www.awi.de/en/science/biosciences/shelf-sea-system-ecology/main-research-focus/european-oyster/proceed.html

“Supported by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation with funds from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety within the Federal Programme for Biological Diversity (Bundesprogramm Biologische Vielfalt).”

Contact:

Dr. Bernadette Pogoda
bernadette.pogoda@awi.de

PROCEED Seed oysters (2mm size); Photo: Alfred-Wegener-Institut / Verena Merk
PROCEED Seed oysters (2mm size); Photo: Alfred-Wegener-Institut / Verena Merk


RESTORE

Background:

In the German North Sea, where it was historically widespread, the Native European Oyster (Ostrea edulis) has been classified as functionally extinct since the mid-20th century. Individual live specimens are only rarely found and the species is on the Red List of endangered species. Recolonisation is evidently prevented by on-going operation of intensive bottom trawl fishery.
The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) has been involved in protecting and investigating this endangered species for some years. At national level, BfN commissioned and evaluated a feasibility study on possibilities and chances for restoration of the European flat oyster in the German North Sea. For the implementation in the field, the research project RESTORE (a testing and development project) was launched in April 2016. The project brings together researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the BfN Marine Nature Conservation Directorate in developing and testing offshore methods for the long-term restoration of oyster stocks in the German North Sea.

RESTORE project

Project beneficiary: Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Bremerhaven
Project funding: German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
Project term: 2016 – 2019.

Work packages:

  • Reviewing and setting the legal framework
  • Knowledge transfer with international oyster restoration projects and establishing a European network
  • Investigating oyster biology
  • Identification of suitable areas for recolonisation (site selection)
  • Identification of suitable seed-oyster sources and substrate technology
  • Field experiments with oysters of various age and size classes to study growth, fitness and health condition in the wild
  • Engaging potential stakeholders: e.g. fishery and mariculture

Goal:

The project outcome will provide the basis for developing a long-term restoration programme for the European flat oyster in German waters. A basic requirement is the exclusion of all seabed-modifying activities such as bottom trawling or sand and gravel extraction at planned restoration sites. This requirement could be met in marine protected areas within the German Exclusive Economic Zone once such activities would be excluded here. For the testing, the first experiments were conducted in the fishery closure zone around an offshore windfarm near Helgoland.
The long-term goal is to establish a healthy stock of European flat oysters in the German North Sea and, to the greatest extent possible, restoration of biodiverse, biogenic reefs – a unique form of ecosystem in our marine waters.

Some actual results:

Please look here:
https://www.awi.de/en/science/biosciences/shelf-sea-system-ecology/main-research-focus/european-oyster.html
https://www.bfn.de/en/activities/marine-nature-conservation/marine-arten/artenschutzprojekte/restoration-of-the-european-flat-oyster.html

Logos AWI BfN

Contact:

Dr. Bernadette Pogoda
bernadette.pogoda@awi.de