In 2010 Andy carried out a series of seabed surveys for Natural Resources Wales using underwater video equipment which mapped the potential oyster habitats around Mumbles and Swansea Bay.
The seabed in our oyster farm is typical of a derelict oyster bed made up old oyster shells mixed in with some pebbles, sand and a lot of mussel shells. (Photos and video available).
In 2012 Andy, supported by Welsh Government, worked with Georgina Palmer from Swansea University on a stock assessment survey across Swansea Bay which showed that only a few large old individuals remained in the Bay. Out of all the shells collected in over 100 dredge tows only 2 spat were found on any of them.
Andy and colleagues recently authored comprehensive report for Natural Resources Wales detailing practical methods of restoration of the native oyster population and associated fishery in South Wales1. It was this work that first highlighted the role that commercial oyster cultivation could play in native oyster habitat restoration and management of the species to him.
1 Woolmer, A.P., Syvret, M. & FitzGerald A., 2011. Restoration of Native Oyster, Ostrea edulis, in South Wales: Options and Approaches. CCW Contract Science Report No: 960, 93 pp.
The Restoration ProjectThe current project aims to provide "proof of concept" that ranching is an effective cultivation technique for native oysters and one that can be applied to restoration of derelict oyster beds. We will be developing best practice in all aspects of restoring a native oyster bed from sourcing of seed oysters, through transport and relaying, harvesting techniques. We will be examining growth, survival and husbandry techniques on the way.
Of particular interest from a biodiversity and conservation viewpoint is the work that we are planning on habitat restoration and spill-over recruitment where we predict that larvae from the site will be exported on the tide to recolonize other derelict beds around Swansea Bay.
UpdateHaving established the suitability of Swansea Bay for native oyster restoration we are undertaking Europe's largest attempt at native oyster restocking over the autumn of 2021. Starting on World Oyster Day in August 2021, and in partnership with Seasalter (Walney), we will begin restocking the Mumbles oyster beds with 4 million juvenile oysters. We hope that this large scale of restocking of the Mumbles beds will spark the recovery of the native oyster industry in Swansea Bay.
Aquafish SolutionsAquafish Solutions is a consultancy operated by Martin Syvret a shellfish cultivation expert. Martin has been a great help in developing our project and will be project managing it over the next 2 years.