Once an incredibly common creature in UK waters, European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis) are absent from the majority of their former dwellings due to historical overfishing and more recent issues of water quality, invasive species and habitat loss.
That’s why the team at the Wild Oyster Project are working hard to re-establish native oyster populations in a number of locations in the UK where they once thrived. Once oyster nurseries are installed into marinas, adult oysters from these nurseries will broadcast their spawn into the water column to be transported back into coastal waters where oyster reefs once were. To help improve the chance of these larvae successfully settling, the team will also be restoring seabed habitats close to the nurseries to encourage the re-establishment of oyster reefs.
Oysters provide many key roles in the coastal marine environment, from improving water quality by filtering the water, to improving biodiversity through creating structure through their reefs. Although each individual oyster is reasonably small, because these creatures cluster together in large reefs, their overall contributions to the environment are significant.