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Sailors protest against supermarket chain’s mussel farm plans

Sailors have staged a protest against a mussel farm planned by the supermarket chain off the coast of the West Flemish town of Nieuwpoort. More than 100 boats took part in Sunday’s protest. The seafarers hope that their protest will serve to highlight their concerns about safety issues that say will arise if the mussel farm is set up at the location planned by Colruyt. The Federal Minister with responsibility for the Belgian sector of the North Sea  Vincent Van Quickenborne (Flemish liberal says that he is prepared to mediate between the protesters (members of local yachting clubs) and the supermarket chain.

Just off the coast at Nieuwpoort, the Colruyt group is working on a sea farm for the cultivation of mussels and oysters. The farm will be used to provide mussels and oysters to the company's stores across Belgium. However, not everyone is happy with the arrival of the mussel farm. 

On Sunday more than a hundred boats took part in a protest against the mussel farm. The protesters are not against mussel farms as such but believe that the location of the Colruyt mussel farm will be a hindrance to shipping. The members of the Flemish Yachting Habour at Nieuwpoort say that it is regrettable that they have been given no say regarding the mussel farm, while at they same time they will be impacted by it. 

"We are not against the sea farm because Colruyt has the right to carry out this kind of activity, but the place where it is now is wrong. We want to sit down at the table and explain where we expect problems to arise", the President of the Flemish Yachting Harbour Nieuwpoort Maarten Desloovere told VRT News.

The sailors claim that the mussel farm limits their scope for sailing in and out of the harbor channel at Nieuwpoort. In addition to this the military often conducts target practice at sea off Lombardsijde. "That means you can't go to Ostend. You can no longer sail straight on due to the location of the sea farm. This means that you can only sail towards De Panne, but the wind usually comes from that direction and a sailing ship cannot sail into that wind”, Mr Desloovere told VRT News.

According to the Colruyt Group, the site of the sea farm has been mapped out using a mathematical model. "Our sea farm is located in an area that was designated the Federal Government and the public inquiry found that there is enough space between the coast and the project zone for sailing. So the sea farm will not hinder the entry and exit to the harbour", Colruyt Group’s Jonas Goeteyn said.

 

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