Image for ‘Mother oyster’ sanctuary in Essex could restore species

‘Mother oyster’ sanctuary in Essex could restore species

A conservation project that aims to restore native oysters to the River Thames is under way

A conservation project that aims to restore native oysters to the River Thames is under way

The ‘mother oyster’ sanctuary has been established in an Essex estuary, and is run by the Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative. The project includes oyster experts and conservation groups, led by ZSL.

Native oysters have suffered a 95 per cent decline in the last 200 years due to overfishing and habitat loss. The sanctuary was created by laying a bed of recycled shells – a process known as “laying the cultch” – providing the hard surface oysters need to breed.

Adult (‘mother’) females were introduced in July and have since spawned. Spat collectors – plastic A-frames to monitor the baby oysters – have also been deployed, and experts will check their progress later in 2019.

Image: Charlotte Coneybeer

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