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Solent

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% of oyster beds and oyster reef habitats have been lost, making them among the most imperilled marine habitats in the world. BLUE 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’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’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. 

Solent Oyster Restoration

Key stats

69,000 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 

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