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Oyster restoration project set to enrich the haven waterway - Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority

2 people looking in to two white boxes with oysters in the bottom
Scattered populations of native oysters in the Milford Haven Waterway will receive a much-needed boost from the restoration project (Pembrokeshire Coast NPA)

An exciting new project is underway to restore the once-abundant population of native oysters within the Milford Haven Waterway and, in doing so, improve the condition of the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

This work is being carried out in partnership with Bangor University, the Pembrokeshire Marine SAC Officer and Tethys Oysters in Angle Bay, and forms part of the Blue Carbon Strand of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Wild Coast! Sustainable Landscapes, Sustainable Places Programme, funded by the Welsh Government and co-ordinated by Tirweddau Cymru Landscapes Wales.

Director of Nature and Tourism at the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, James Parkin, said: “Designated landscapes, such as the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, account for 25% of the Welsh landscape, which means they have a vital role in helping nature to recover. The Sustainable Landscapes, Sustainable Places Landscapes Fund is having a significant impact on our ability to create a sustainable and resilient environment for future generations.”

Since the project commenced in November 2023, Ostrea edulis broodstock have been collected from Angle Bay and Burton Ferry and transported to Bangor University, with the aim of rearing them and returning them to the Milford Haven Waterway to boost existing populations.

It is expected that up to 200,000 native oyster spat may be produced, but numbers could be significantly more.

National Park Authority Biodiversity Officer, Sarah Mellor, explained: “Native British oyster populations have declined dramatically over the decades, as a result of habitat loss, pollution, over-harvesting and disease. This has significant implications for the health of our marine environment. As well as being filter feeders that actively purify the surrounding water, oysters also store carbon, and their reefs also play an important role in fostering biodiversity by providing food, shelter, and protection for a wide variety of marine life.”

Currently, there are very few nursery facilities that can provide native oysters for restoration. To date, native oysters introduced to the Waterway have been reared in Morecambe Bay. The status of the Milford Haven Waterway as a Bonamia (parasitic disease) area also places additional restrictions on the movement of oysters.


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Posted On: 04/03/2024

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