S4W Open Call Challenge

Biodiversity in Port of Rotterdam

Host / Region

V2_, Lab for the Unstable Media / Port of Rotterdam


Port of Rotterdam, the largest in Europe, is a national icon. Yet there is very little awareness of the port’s capacity to shelter, nurture and harbour marine life, and of the need to sustain and expand its marine ecosystem. 

This residency focuses on cultivating sustainable interaction between a man made port and the marine life within it.


port environment, marine ecosystem, sustainability, biodiversity, resilient development, eDNA determination, fish tagging technology, artificial reef construction, in-situ underwater sound measurement, data collection and information design.

Description of the regional challenge

Port of Rotterdam is an unexpected haven for marine species. The large port’s industrial complex has both a positive and a negative impact on the marine habitat’s natural biodiversity.

It offers many places in which to shelter: shallow banks, quiet basins and deep thoroughfares. In the port, sweet and saltwater meet. It is also the only place in the Netherlands in which fish can migrate inland from the sea without encountering barriers. Yet it also encompasses some of the busiest shipping lanes in Europe, which bring about  the problems of sound pollution and oil spills, amongst other things.

Region information

Port of Rotterdam is located in the middle of the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt Delta and measures 105 square kilometres. The main waterway is the Nieuwe Waterweg (New Waterway), a large canal completed in 1872 that connects the Rhine and Meuse rivers to the North Sea.

Port of Rotterdam consists of the city centre’s historic harbour area, including Delfshaven; the Maashaven/ Rijnhaven/Feijenoord complex; the harbours around Nieuw-Mathenesse, Waalhaven, Vondelingenplaat, Eemhaven, Botlek and Europoort; and the reclaimed Maasvlakte area, which projects into the North Sea.

How is the mission S+T+ARTS driven?

The project will contribute to the sustainable management of Port of Rotterdam’s marine ecosystem.

It will focus on the potential opportunities offered up by eDNA determination, fish tagging technology, in-situ underwater sound measurement, data collection and information design, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) etc. It will do so in order to analyse DNA-traces, gather data about fish movements, study underwater life and involve residents of the area directly. 

The project aims to transform everyday thinking about the port area and the ways in which to conserve and sustainably use its marine ecosystem.

Residency support network