International workshop on Mussel Wadden Sea related research November 19-20 Leeuwarden

On November 19 and 20 of this year, the programme ‘Towards a Rich Wadden Sea’ and the Wadden Academy organise a workshop on current Dutch projects studying the role of mussels & mussel beds in the Wadden Sea ecosystem. Organizers and cooperating research projects are introduced below.

Workshop organisers

International experts will also be invited to present their research results on these topics.
The workshop language will be English. Chairman will be Peter Herman, board member of the Dutch Wadden Academy.

The aim of the workshop is to present & review research results obtained so far, in order to:
·         assess their value for Wadden Sea policy making;
·         present synthesized results at the Trilateral Scientific Wadden Sea Symposium of the following days;
·         discuss aims and approach for next research phases.

The workshop will be held at the Leeuwarden World Trade Centre. At his same location, from 21 to 23 November, the Trilateral Scientific Wadden Sea Symposium will take place.

The programme outline is as follows:
November 19, afternoon: Tidal mussel beds: stability factors and their functions in the Wadden Sea ecosystem
November 20, morning: Subtidal mussel beds: stability factors and their functions in the Wadden Sea ecosystem
November 20, afternoon: Estuarine food web interactions around mussel beds

Target groups for the workshop are:
·         researchers on the topics mentioned;
·         policy makers with a strong scientific interest in these topics.

Costs of participation and meals will be covered by the organisation. Hence, participants are to cover costs of lodging and travel only. We have reserved rooms at the Leeuwarden WTC hotel. Please send an email to the following addresses, in order to:
Register as participant: A.N.Elgersma@dlg.nl, stating your name, function, affiliation and address data
Reserve a room at the WTC hotel Leeuwarden: leeuwarden@westcordhotels.nl, stating your name, address data and the reservation key word ‘Rijke Waddenzee’

In the month of October the full workshop programme will be sent out.

For further information on organisation, please contact Annet Elgersma, programme Towards a rich Wadden Sea. Contact details:
Email: A.N.Elgersma@dlg.nl
Telephone: +31-582955431

For further information on scientific scope & contents of the workshop, please contact Hein Sas, programme Towards a rich Wadden Sea. Contact details:
Email: hsas@xs4all.nl
Telephone: +31-653193495

Participating projects
MOSSELWAD
The aim of the ‘Mosselwad’ project is to give scientific support to the recovery of stable subtidal and intertidal mussel  beds in the Dutch Wadden Sea. New experimental mussel beds will be constructed and the development of recovering mussel beds will be followed during a five year period. The project investigates survival chances of mussel beds and patches within mussel beds as a function of hydrodynamical forces, attachment to the substrate, predation pressure by shellfish-eating birds, crabs and starfish, including the impact of colonization by Pacific oysters. New video techniques for high-quality day-and-night observations are used from 3 fixed observation stations. More than ten intertidal mussel beds are intensively studied twice a year. The development of two large areas with subtidal mussel beds recently closed to  mussel  fishery is included in the project.
Project period: 2010-2014
Project partners: Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC), IMARES (Wageningen University), SOVON Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology and NIOZ (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research), Utrecht University.
The project is sponsored by the Dutch Waddenfonds, the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat) and the provinces Friesland and North Holland.

Waddensleutels
In the ‘Waddensleutels’ (‘Wadden Keys’) project, factors governing the establishment and survival of mussel beds and their role as ‘bio-engineers’ in the Wadden Sea food web are investigated. Besides, the project aims at restoration of mussel beds. It should result in guidelines for mussel bed restoration and ecosystem restoration in a broader sense.
Project period: 2010-2014
Project partners: Groningen University and NIOZ (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research).
The project is sponsored by the Dutch Waddenfonds and the nature conservation organizations Natuurmonumenten and Staatsbosbeheer

PRODUS2
The ‘PRODUS’ research project is focussed on factors that determine the efficient exploitation of mussels in bottom culture, and on the impact of mussel culture, including mussel seed fishery, on the ecosystem. The standing stock dynamics and the yield of bottom culture of mussels is being studied in relation to environmental conditions, the role of predation, and the culture strategies of the farmers. The impact of bottom seed fishery on wild beds is studied by a BACI approach, consisting of a pairwise analysis of biodiversity on 40 sites of 8 ha with 4 ha non-fished control sites and at least 4 ha fished areas, over a period of 5 years. A comparison is made of species composition and abundance of wild mussel seed beds, culture plots and other habitats.
Project period: 2006-2012
Project partners: IMARES, NIOZ, MarinX and Kersting Consultancy.
The project is commissioned by the Dutch government and the Dutch mussel producers organisation.

Evaluation of the effects of seed mussel collectors on carrying capacity of the Dutch Wadden Sea and Oosterschelde
The Dutch mussel fishery in the Wadden Sea and Oosterschelde is undergoing a transition process, from bottom trawling to harvesting seed mussels with pelagic collectors. Motives are pressure from society and the sector’s desire to safeguard a steady supply of seed mussels. A seed collector consists of nets or ropes that are placed in the water column when larvae are present. The shift from bottom trawling to using collectors results in a higher mussel biomass, because natural beds are no longer fished and spat survival is enhanced on the collectors. This may result in overgrazing and, if the ecosystem carrying capacity is limited, possibly affect the production of other shellfish.
In order to study these effects, a historic reconstruction of shellfish biomass in Wadden Sea and Oosterschelde is made and ecosystem modeling is undertaken. The comparison between Wadden Sea and Oosterschelde yields new insights into the functioning of both ecosystems.
Project period: 2009-2013
Project partners: IMARES, NIOZ, Deltares and MarinX
The project is sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation,

Workshop organizers
Towards a Rich Wadden Sea
The programme ‘Towards a Rich Wadden Sea‘ is a joint initiative of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, regional  authorities and nature conservation organizations. Its objective is to coordinate and stimulate Wadden Sea ecosystem improvement in close cooperation  with inhabitants and users. The programme was started in 2010 and is intended to run until 2030. It is funded by the ministry and regional authorities.

Wadden Academy
The Dutch Wadden Academy aims to identify gaps in our knowledge of the Wadden Sea Region, to programme research and to disseminate the outcome. The research areas are: geo-science, ecology, society and cultural history, social and spatial economics and Climate and water. It is the ambition of the Wadden Academy to develop the Wadden Sea Region into an incubator for widely applicable integrated knowledge of sustainable development of a coastal area, in which natural values are a key element and form the foundations of the local and regional economy. The Wadden Academy is supported by the Dutch Waddenfonds and was started in 2009.