North Sea Opportunities and Challenges Discussed in Delft


The North Sea is rich and has a lot to offer: peace of mind, nature, transport, energy, food. The sea holds great opportunities for economy and ecology but is vulnerable at the same time. The various stakeholders must enjoy and use the sea with care, not crossing the blue limits to growth.

This became clear during the two-day “Noordzeedagen” (North Sea Days) conference, organized by our member Deltares research institute in Delft on October 7-8, supported by some other NSF members and partners: NIOZ (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research), WMR (Wageningen Marine Research), TNO (Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research), RWS (the executive agency of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management) and the Community of Practice North Sea.

Bas de Leeuw participated on behalf of North Sea Farmers and came back with a load of lessons learnt and new inspiration for partnerships and connections. “The Noordzeedagen conference showcased the Dutch approach of consensus building and multistakeholder problem solving in the most perfect and pleasant way”, he commented. Haik van Exel, Managing Director of our member Hortimare, presented his insights on seaweed cultivation and its impact on nature and environment. Chances for seaweed on the North Sea, he said, are boosting offshore technology innovations, entrepreneurship and breeding technology options. At the same time a lot of research is needed.

Seaweed opportunities and challenges were reviewed in vivid discussions and during informal roundtables, break out groups and even cabaret performances. Researchers shared their latest findings and government representatives, among many others Jan Peter Oelen, Nathalie Scheidegger and Nico Buytendijk explained their policy plans for a Sustainable Blue Economy. We are happy to learn that nature-inclusive multi-use farming was welcomed and that seaweed cultivation on the North Sea was seen as an innovative technological challenge in the blue economy. Our Offshore Test Site and upcoming North Sea Farm #1 offer of course unique opportunities for onsite research and monitoring by our partners. Some follow up meetings to that end have already been scheduled. And last but not least: strengthening the cooperation between our members on nature protection and restoration appeared to be a wish of the new director Albert Jaap van Santbrink of Stichting Noordzee (North Sea Foundation) and that wish is totally mutual!