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Oysters could return to the Solent

07 June 2016 by
Oysters could return to the Solent

Cages containing batches of oysters were installed at marinas in Portsmouth last November and early results are promising, with at least 97% of oysters surviving winter.

Olympic sailing champion Sir Ben Ainslie is backing the project led by the Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE). BLUE plans to run its first oyster festival next year and is in talks with local and national corporations interested in supporting the project.

Tim Glover, from the foundation, told the BBC: "It will improve the economy, the fishing community, the local community, and the water quality of the Solent which is important for tourism - so it's a real plus if we can succeed in restoring it."

Oyster fishing in the strait between the Isle of Wight and the mainland was banned in 2013 when numbers plummeted due to overfishing, dredging, disease and invasive predators. It was once the largest oyster fishery in Europe, which subsequently collapsed.

The native oyster was a threatened species and classified as a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, and has been almost entirely replaced by the Pacific oyster.

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