Oyster beds filter the water column, removing nitrogen, sequestering carbon and providing habitats for hundreds of species. Tragically, they have disappeared around the UK’s coastline and these critical services have been lost from the environment.
Globally, an estimated 85 per cent of oyster beds and oyster reef habitats have been lost, making them among the most imperilled marine habitats in the world. Blue Marine is creating a model for restoration of this key habitat by relaying millions of oysters into the Solent, the strait that separates the Isle of Wight from mainland England.
In order to increase the number of breeding oysters within the Solent, Blue Marine’s team has placed mature “brood stock” oysters at high densities in cages hung in the water beneath pontoons, facilitating the release of millions of larvae into the Solent. The cages have been shown to provide a refuge for other marine life, with 97 different species having been found living within the cages so far, including critically endangered European eels, juvenile spiny seahorse and sea bass.
To promote natural recruitment and re-establish wild oyster beds, Blue Marine’s Solent team is also re-seeding protected seabed sites with juvenile oysters. These sanctuary sites will be created on a large scale in areas closed to commercial fishing and will be allowed to flourish and develop.
For further details please see: Solent Oyster Restoration Project Overview
Establishing an oyster nursery
Blue Marine Foundation has worked with the University of Portsmouth and Wild Oysters Project to develop a guide to oyster nurseries for the native flat oyster (Ostrea edulis). The guide has been designed to enable marina companies, pontoon or jetty owners and other restoration projects to establish their own nursery system for oyster restoration, highlighting the need for restoration, the application of nurseries, logistical considerations, need for biosecurity protocols and how to monitor them. With help from MDL Marinas the system has been refined over several years and the paperwork necessary has been streamlined to make the application process as easy as possible, whilst ensuring the applicants still understand the importance of the processes involved.
The guide and templates needed to undertake the application process – with examples in some cases – are set out with the legislative requirements for the UK & Ireland, but they can be applied to other European countries by making adaptions to account for the relevant legislative requirements.
105,000 native oysters restored to the Solent
12 oyster restoration sites
200 volunteers have worked on the project
97 marine species found living in the oyster cages
Chief Officer Southern IFCA
“The partnership forged by Blue Marine, which we are delighted to be part of, builds on their extensive experience; the collaborative restoration plan ensures the local community, fishermen, scientists and conservation groups can work together to achieve a shared goal and rebuild the once-thriving Solent oyster beds.”
Commercial Director of MDL Marinas
“Helping to restore the native oyster population, an important part of the local ecosystem which removes pollutants and provides habitats, is one of many ways that the boating community can give back to the ocean and improve the local waters around us for our future enjoyment.”
By working together, we can turn the tide on overfishing and the destruction of biodiversity. By supporting Blue Marine, you can help to create marine reserves around the world.