Tyne and Wear chosen as part of project to boost British native oyster population

A dream project to recover Britain’s native oysters is being brought to life with the help of charity funding – and Tyne and Wear will play its part in making the plans a reality.

International conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London), Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) and British Marine are celebrating after receiving more than £1million in funding to boost the native oyster population in Britain.

Raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and awarded as part of the Dream Fund, the money will help the Wild Oysters project to recover the native oyster population, which will lead to cleaner water, healthier fisheries and plentiful marine biodiversity across the nation.

Wild native oysters have declined by more than 95% in the UK, with the decrease blamed on a combination of over-harvesting, habitat loss and pollution.

The project hopes to restore Britain's native oyster population.

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The Tyne and Wear coastal water body will join the River Conwy in Wales and the Firth of Clyde in Scotland in being the locations for new oyster reefs.

Alison Debney, ZSL Senior Conservation Programme Manager, said: “Our dream is to grow a self-sustaining population of native oysters in the UK.

"This funding awarded by Postcode Dream Trust means we now have the potential to release nine billion native oyster larvae into the ocean creating oyster nurseries in UK waters, work with local communities to care for our oceans superheroes and connect people and wildlife.

Three new oyster reefs - including one in Tyne and Wear - will be created in Britain. Picture: ZSL

“Thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery we hope to see healthy, resilient, coastal waters and make a remarkable difference to the future of wild oysters.”

It’s hoped that the new oyster nurseries will inspire the next generation to protect and enchance Britain’s marine environment, with the project expected to engage thousands of volunteers from schools, workplaces and other organisations to get involved in the importance of increasing the oyster population.

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, added: “Oysters are little carbon capturers as they purify the water in which they grow, removing and storing nitrogen and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Celine Gamble, Wild Oysters Project Manager.

"Funding raised by players supports a vast range of environmental causes in Britain and beyond, and it’s incredible to see the impact this is making.”

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