Restoration ecology

Oyster bed restoration

Oyster beds form the reefs of cold seas, such as the North Sea, and are essential for biodiversity and water purification. However, they have been depleted and damaged by human activity, even more than coral reefs have. As leading experts in this field, Waardenburg Ecology is actively involved in almost all oyster recovery projects that are being carried out in the North Sea.

Oyster beds can be considered as the coral reefs of cold seas. They form hard structures on an otherise soft sediment, on which a rich, biodiverse marine community flourishes. They are nurseries for fish and they also purify the water.


About 200 years ago, the Dutch North Sea consisted of more than 20,000 square kilometers of oyster beds. As a result of 150 years of trawler fishing and the introduction of exotic diseases, the oyster beds disappeared. The disappearance of this vital habitat caused the number of animal species to decline, with consequences for biodiversity. Various studies have shown that the North Sea is again suitable for oysters. Now is the time to restore these oyster beds!

Discovering oyster beds

Waardenburg Ecology has been involved in the restoration of oyster beds since the very beginning. We are now active throughout the North Sea; from the German border to the Dogger Bank and down to the Belgian border. We use our knowledge of North Sea ecology along with the expertise of our professional diving team.

In 2015, we discovered the only oyster bank in the central North Sea containing European flat oysters; this gave a boost to the knowledge about oyster recovery. We work together with knowledgeable and driven partners from academic institutes and NGOs, and together we are part of the Dutch Shellfish Reef Recovery Alliance (NSHA).