ROTTERDAM, 27 June 2023 – In a significant stride towards marine restoration, Rotterdam-based startup Oyster Heaven has secured €800,000 in funding from Orange Wings Investments. The investment will bolster the startup's mission to regenerate lost oyster reefs on a global scale, a first-of-its-kind initiative in the realm of cost-effective marine restoration.
Oyster Heaven's mission
Oyster Heaven, established by George Birch in 2021, is pioneering a solution to a pressing environmental issue. Oyster reefs, once covering 20-30% of the North Sea, have been reduced to a mere 5% of their original extent due to overharvesting. These reefs are crucial to marine ecosystems, providing habitats for numerous species, filtering water, and naturally managing excess nitrogen, thereby combating climate change.
The startup's innovative approach involves the creation of a low-cost and efficient substrate for oysters, known as the Mother Reef. This natural reef system, made of clay and preloaded with baby oysters (or “spats” in Dutch), is designed to repopulate the barren sea floor.
The Mother Reef: A scalable solution
Following two years of successful lab and field testing, Oyster Heaven continues to validate the efficacy of the Mother Reef at Stichting Zeeschelp in Zeeland. Thus far, tens of thousands of baby oysters have attached to the Mother Reefs and are thriving, demonstrating the potential of this technology to regenerate oyster reefs on a large scale.
A sustainable model for ocean conservation
Oyster Heaven's approach uniquely combines ocean conservation with a financially scalable model. By partnering with local fishing communities to plant the Mother Reefs into the ocean, the startup is fostering a new circular economy.
George Birch, founder of Oyster Heaven, stated, “Sustainability has been the sole ambition of my career. Oyster Heaven is the opportunity to make this happen. Today, countries are in various stages of recognizing the value of ecosystem services. Oyster Heaven is leading the way, preparing for a society willing to pay for the services oyster reefs can provide.”
Future plans and impact
With the backing of Orange Wings Investments, Oyster Heaven plans to deploy 5 million oysters in Europe and the US in 2024, with a goal of regenerating 100 million oysters by 2027. This initiative is expected to significantly enhance marine biodiversity, water quality, and waste management across various industries.