The feasibility of offshore aquaculture and its potential for multi-use in the North Sea

H.M. Jansen*, S.W.K. van den Burg, B.C. Bolman, R.G. Jak, P. Kamermans, M. Poelman, M. Stuiver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Following the Blue Growth ambition of the European Commission, the interest in the potential of offshore is growing. This paper aimed to contribute to the discussion on the feasibility of offshore aquaculture development and its potential for multi-use with other maritime activities. A review of national and international projects forms the basis of the paper, where the Dutch North Sea is used as a case-study area. Analysis of technical, economic and ecological boundaries indicated that the potential of fish culture is limited, that seaweed cultivation is likely to gain potential when challenges related to processing will be overcome and that mussel culture has the highest potential in the near future. The North Sea is an area where many stakeholders claim space, which might set boundaries to the number of sites available for mussel culture. Competing claims are a potential source of conflict but may also lead to mutual benefits when smart combinations are sought, e.g. with wind parks, fisheries and nature conservation; especially, the possibility of combining mussel culture in or around wind parks is worthwhile to be further explored. A spatial distribution model adapted for the Dutch North Sea conditions demonstrated that offshore mussel production in wind farms can be profitable. Yet, the commercial interest for offshore development of mussel culture is still limited. Actions required to stimulate further development of the offshore mussel industry are presented for the government, the private sector, research institutes and civil society organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-756
JournalAquaculture International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Aquaculture
  • Blue Growth
  • Multi-use
  • Offshore


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