We have been working with the Southern IFCA to carry out an oyster translocation programme to support local regeneration of the native oyster population in the Solent. As part of the IFA2 project, we have recently funded the chartering of a local fishing vessel in the Lee-on-Solent to Chilling area to collect data on and mitigate the impact to the native oyster populations over the HVAC cable route.
The Solent Oyster Restoration Project, set up by marine conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), seeks to rebuild the Solent’s native oyster population by restoring habitats in partnership with local fisherman, marine and local authorities and scientists. Through the funding we have provided to the Southern IFCA, local fishermen have been working with BLUE to collect oysters on the IFA2 route. The oysters collected are then moved to broodstock cages where they can contribute towards restoring the once self-sustaining oyster population.
The native oyster, Ostrea edulis, has been found in the Solent since the 1970s. Historically seen as Europe’s largest self-sustaining flat (native) oyster fishery in its peak, the oyster population has recently declined, affecting fishermen and the overall health of the marine ecosystems in the Solent. Temporary closures of oyster harvesting have been in place in recent years to avoid further loss of the native oyster population and allow remaining adult oysters in the Solent to reproduce and act as a breeding stock.
Dave Luetchford, head of IFA2 said: “We’re thrilled to be supporting the Solent Oyster Restoration Project. This is a great opportunity to make a contribution to conservation in the Solent, helping to restore to the region’s once self-sustaining oyster population, supporting employment in the oyster fishery and thereby the local economy, as well as improving biodiversity and water quality in the Solent.”