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Oysters regain foothold in British waters

The European Flat Oyster is being reintroduced into Gibraltar waters as part of the Gibraltar Government’s wider marine restoration programme.

The project is being led by the Department of the Environment and Climate Change (DECC).

The minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Dr John Cortes said: “We are working hard to try and regain many of those species that have either declined steeply or have been lost to Gibraltar, both on land and in the sea.”

“This is one step more towards improving our biodiversity, which is good for the environment and for our enjoyment of the sea.”

The Flat Oyster, or Ostrea edulis, was known to be abundant in the Bay of Gibraltar but their numbers diminished during the 19th Century due to over-fishing.

“Proof of their presence in the Bay can be seen today within some of Gibraltar’s fortifications, such as the old Spanish walls, where oyster shells were used as fill material. Interestingly, census records also show that ‘oyster-catchers’ were recorded as working in Gibraltar during the 1800s,” said the Government.

In an attempt to increase population numbers the DECC has been working closely with marine biologist, Dr Darren Fa, and Aquareef Tech. Approximately 100kg of mature oysters have been deployed within protected areas in different sections of the Gibraltar Marine Reserve.

The oysters have been strategically placed and are ready to reproduce. The DECC’s Dive Team will be carrying out regular inspections over the coming months to monitor the progress of this valuable restoration initiative.

Any marine sightings within Gibraltar’s waters, including oysters, can be reported via email to: marine.monitoring@gibraltar.gov.gi all information provided will assist the Department’s ongoing surveillance programme.