Restoration of the stocks of the European oyster (Ostrea edulis) in the German North Sea

Within the framework of this research and development project, sponsored by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), methods and procedures for sustainable stock establishment of the European oyster in the German North Sea will be developed and tested at pilot scale for the first time. As the project RESTORE is based on recommendations of the BfN feasibility study (Gercken & Schmidt 2014) it addresses still open research questions.

The results of this study are intended to create a restoration program, to establish a healthy stock of these highly endangered oysters in Europe and to establish an oyster bed ecosystem at selected locations in the German North Sea.

Project term 2016 – 2019

The reintroduction of the once endemic oyster in the German North Sea is considered a marine conservation measure and is professionally supervised by the Department of Marine Nature Conservation of the BfN and carried out in cooperation with AWI. In order to restore the stock of this species sustainably, nature conservation law must first be review and technological and biological issues overcome to allow final recommendations for a long-term program of restoration.

Scientific and technical objectives

Within the scope of the present research and development project, scientific and technological framework conditions should be created for restoration of European oyster stocks in the German North Sea. While observing nature protection requirements, field studies will be carried out at potential recovery sites to test various technologies for the settlement, growth and fitness of Ostrea edulis.

The following insights are expected:

• Evidence of growth and health (biological fitness)

• Identification of broodstock populations (oysters seeds to reintroduce)

• Recommendations for suitable sites

• Recommendation for appropriate technologies 

First results:

In spring 2017, young spat oysters were spaced deployed in oyster cages in an offshore area north of the island of Helgoland. Juvenile oysters are sampled from the field experiment to gain growth and fitness data. Sampling is carried out by research divers from our research ships FS Heincke, FS Mya II and FK Uthörn