Oyster reefs returning to the Scottish coast after 100 years

Some 20,000 native European oysters will be placed on a reef made from waste shells in the Dornoch Firth.

It’s hoped their presence will, in turn, enable other species to thrive and enhance marine biodiversity.

Oyster reefs were a common feature under the seas of Britain’s coastline under they virtually disappeared, largely due to overfishing in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

The new trial is being run by the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project – a partnership between Heriot-Watt University, the Marine Conservation Society and the whisky-maker Glenmorangie, which is funding the project.

The presence of oyster reefs in the sea will help to purify discharge from Glenmorangie’s distillery.

Dr Bill Sanderson, associate professor of Marine Biodiversity at Heriot-Watt, said: “This is the first time anyone has tried to recreate a natural European oyster habitat in a protected area.

“Working closely with Glenmorangie, we hope to create an outstanding environment for marine life in the Firth – and act as a driving force behind other oyster regeneration work across Europe.”

If the project proves successful, the numbers of oysters involved will be increased to four million over five years, in self-sustaining oyster reefs covering an area of 40 hectares.

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