BELGA/VERGULT

Do plans for a mussel farm off the Nieuwpoort coast stand a chance?

Retailers Colruyt have plans for a mussel farm in the North Sea, but it seems unlikely they will get the go-ahead.

Colruyt has started the procedure to get a permit for a mussel farm off the Nieuwpoort coast (zone C in the picture below). Apart from mussels, they also want to grow oysters and sea weed, all this in an area covering about 4.5 square kilometres. 

Local fishermen have already protested. "This area is rich in fish, and we have fished there for generations. They never asked our advice." The fishermen also say they have already been banned from other locations, and that this strip is "the only small area left for us." 

Nieuwpoort Alderman Kris Vandecasteele will issue a negative advice for the project, and Mayor Geert Vanden Broucke is not a big fan either: "We don't know a lot about the impact of the farm. It would be hidden below the water surface, but no boats can pass above, not even sailing boats." Nieuwpoort is a particular hotspot for private yachts, "and we will get 600 extra places in the future."  

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