Last year we announced an exciting collaboration with the Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), Land Rover BAR and the University of Portsmouth to restore native oysters to local waters. Our aim was to introduce one million oysters by the end of 2017 to help clear up the Solent.
Following a successful trial at the Land Rover BAR pontoon, plans were made to continue towards the one million oyster target by the end of this year. To launch the project’s roll-out across our solent marinas, we welcomed broadcaster, traveller and adventurer, Ben Fogle to our Port Hamble Marina to launch the project.
As someone who spends a lot of his time immersed in nature, protecting the environment is very important to Ben: “My experiences traversing the world’s oceans have opened my eyes to the scale of marine destruction. The humble oyster is an incredibly powerful ecosystem engineer, capable of filtering 200 litres of water a day and supporting marine life. Restoring the native oyster to the Solent would be another step closer to turning the tide against the large-scale degradation of our oceans, and giving something back to the UK’s inshore waters which provide us with so many benefits.”
The native oyster population in the UK has halved over the last 25 years. The restoration of the native oyster will provide ecological and social benefits for the region by helping to improve water quality, foster valuable habitats which are otherwise being lost to future generations and re-establish an important strand of the economy on the south coast.
The oysters are housed in unique cage-like structures, designed and built by MDL Marinas, which are suspended off pontoons in Hamble Point, Port Hamble, Sparkes and Saxon Wharf, as well as pontoons at the University of Portsmouth and the pontoon installed by MDL Marinas at Land Rover BAR HQ.
BLUE is leading a coalition of fishermen, marine and local authorities, scientists and conservationists to significantly increase the population of native oysters by 2020, with the long-term aim of achieving sustainable stocks, improving the quality of water in the Solent, as well as benefiting the ecosystem and inshore fisheries.
MDL is proud to be involved in this innovative CSR initiative and we are looking at rolling this scheme out around the MDL Marinas network. Dean Smith, Commercial Director of MDL Marinas, said: “Helping to restore the native oyster population, an important part of the local ecosystem which removes pollutants and provides habitats, is one of the many ways that the boating community can give back to the ocean and improve the local waters around us for our future enjoyment.”
The cages are marked out along the pontoons with plaques, next time you're down at one of our marinas, be sure to keep an eye out!