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Helping to restore the historic Solent oyster fishery with BLUE

By MDL Consultancy

Helping bring oysters back to the Solent…

When Land Rover BAR began to build its new home on the waterfront in Portsmouth, the team found a threat to the natural ecosystem on its doorstep. The Solent had once had an oyster trade worth millions of pounds, but in the last few years there’s been a rapid decline in the native oyster population. The oyster fishery in the area had collapsed as a result.

While it might seem unusual for a sports team like Land Rover BAR to be involved in a project like this, sustainability is an integral part of the team's ethos. Working alongside its Exclusive Sustainability Partner 11th Hour Racing, Land Rover BAR is committed to becoming the most sustainable sports team in the UK.

With an opportunity to make a real difference to the ecosystem so close to home, we were excited to help do something about it. The concept was simple: to nurture protected cages of adult oysters at the team base, replicated on pontoons to reproduce and 'reseed' the wider fishery. As Jo Meekley, Project Manager at MDL Marina Consultancy, explains: "Our innovative pontoon structure can be attached to any standard pontoon. It provides a great home for the oysters, which will reproduce quickly and repopulate the Solent.’

The initiative would restore the once thriving fishery, bringing employment opportunities and a sustainable local food source back to the locality. The Blue Marina Foundation (BLUE) was already working on a study, funded by MDL Marinas, looking at the feasibility of using marinas to regenerate a fishery. When the team partnered with MDL as the Official UK Marina Partner to build their pontoons in Portsmouth, everything lined up: Land Rover BAR would host the trial, Portsmouth Institute of Marine Science would monitor the science and do the research, while we would develop the special pontoons together with pontoon manufacturer Walcon Marine.

BLUE Co-founder, Chris Gorell Barnes, commented: The Blue Marine Foundation is delighted with the support we have received from MDL Marinas. This opens the doors and minds of others to the project so that we can harness the funding and collaborative expertise needed to support our work in restoring the oysters. If we restore it successfully, there’ll significant ecosystem benefits to the Solent environment, as well as economic gains to the region.’

Alex Beere, Head of Consultancy and Technical Services at MDL Marina Consultancy, commented: “We fully support the work of BLUE and believe re-establishing the Solent oyster fishery will be a very successful venture – both from an economic and environmental perspective.”

To find out more about BLUE go to www.bluemarinefoundation.com.

You can watch a video of the installation here.


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