Firth of Clyde part of scheme to restore native wild oysters

Effort to restore British native oyster populations described as biggest conservation project of its kind in the UK.

Firth of Clyde part of scheme to restore native wild oysters Getty Images
Project: Scheme involves creating and installing oyster nurseries.

The Firth of Clyde is one of three British estuaries identified to help restore the UK’s native wild oyster population.

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – and partners Blue Marine Foundation and British Marine – have been awarded more than £1m by the People’s Postcode Lottery, for what they say is the biggest conservation project of its kind in the UK.

The scheme involves creating and installing oyster nurseries, suspended under marina pontoons, with adult oysters in them that will release their young into the environment.

These young, known as spat, will settle across three oyster reef habitats created across the British estuaries of the Firth of Clyde, the River Conwy in Wales, and the Tyne and Wear coastal water body in England.

The new habitat will be created by adding a layer of old oyster shells and stones to the seabed to help improve the environment for the spat.

The move aims to reverse the failing fortunes of native wild oysters, which have seen declines of more than 95% due to over-harvesting, habitat loss, pollution and disease, the conservationists said.

Alison Debney, ZSL senior conservation programme manager, said: “Our dream is to grow a self-sustaining population of native oysters in the UK.

“This funding awarded by Postcode Dream Trust means we now have the potential to release nine billion native oyster larvae into the ocean creating oyster nurseries in UK waters, work with local communities to care for our oceans superheroes and connect people and wildlife.