More than 25,000 mature native oysters have been reintroduced to an Essex estuary by the Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative (ENORI) - in an attempt to restore a nationally important breeding population that once supported hundreds of fishermen.
ENORI is a joint venture between Essex Wildlife Trust, Blackwater Oysterman’s Association, Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Blue Marine Foundation, Cambridge University, The Nature Conservancy, River Roach Oyster Company, Colchester Oyster Fishery, CEFAS, Natural England, the Environment Agency, and the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries Authority (KEIFCA).
The event is a milestone for ENORI and a significant step towards the restoration of Britain’s native oyster beds. Populations of the European Native, or Colchester Oyster (Ostrea edulis) are estimated to have been reduced by more than 95 per cent due to historic over-harvesting, disease, competition from invasive species and predators.
Essex Wildlife Trust staff, with the support of 30 volunteers, individually marked 2,500 of the oysters so they can track their progress, before they were relaid in the Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). The MCZ was designated by the government three years ago, following survey work by Essex Wildlife Trust, the Blackwater Oysterman’s Association and University of Essex, with the conservation objective to recover the native oyster and native oyster beds.
For more information about the project click here.