Native oysters heading back to European waters

22/05/2019 0 By wildfeed
By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 22 May 2019

A three day conference to develop a ‘blueprint’ for returning native oysters (Ostrea edulis) to seas around Europe is taking place in Edinburgh. It’s set to build on work already being carried out in Scotland, led by Dornoch Firth based, whisky producers, the Glenmorangie Company, Heriot-Watt University and MCS.

Divers surveying scallops for the Glenmorangie's Deep project
© Glenmorangie

Large-scale ecological restoration and a complete re-think of how we manage human activity at sea, putting marine ecosystem limits front and centre of planning and licensing, is urgently needed

Calum Duncan,
MCS Head of Conservation, Scotland

MCS has been part of the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP) since 2014 which has begun restoring extinct native oyster reefs to the protected sea by the Glenmorangie distillery.

The plans drawn up at this, the second Native Oyster Restoration Alliance (NORA) conference, could eventually see millions of native oysters returned to the seas around Sweden, France, Germany, England, Wales, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Croatia and Scotland, where they were wiped out by overfishing as much as a century ago.

The Glenmorangie Company, together with its partners including MCS and Scottish Natural Heritage, are hosting the meeting where marine scientists, conservationists, administrators and oyster producers from across Europe will hear about the success of the DEEP project. The project aims to establish a self-sustaining reef of four million oysters by 2025. Established reefs would improve water quality and biodiversity through regaining reef-like three dimensional structures on the seafloor and act in tandem with Glenmorangie’s anaerobic digestion plant, purifying the by-products of distillation – an environmental first for a Distillery.

Calum Duncan, MCS Head of Conservation, Scotland, says that recent climate emergency and global nature collapse reports and the failure of UK seas to meet European targets to be in Good Environmental Status by next year, are a wake-up call that business-as-usual is damaging our oceans: “Welcome progress has been made in some areas, but these are just slowing the decline unless we go further and faster to reverse ecosystem collapse at sea.

“Large-scale ecological restoration and a complete re-think of how we manage human activity at sea, putting marine ecosystem limits front and centre of planning and licensing, is urgently needed. This is why we are delighted to be part of both the DEEP project and this week’s NORA conference that will help catalyse native oyster restoration projects throughout the UK and Europe.”

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