OYSTER fishing across the Solent has been banned after numbers have severely dropped.
Oyster fishing has been taking place from the waters near Southampton up to Chichester for many years due to huge numbers in the area.
But experts say the numbers of oysters available is believed to be just 10 per cent of what it was five years ago.
Factors to blame include oysters failing to reproduce, water quality and overfishing.
The oyster season was due to start in three weeks but has been called off for the first time ever.
Fisherman Gary Edwards said: ‘It’s a definite collapse of the fishery and some of it is down to the fishing activity and the fact that the boats are more efficient.
‘But there’s something else going on as well. There’s some sort of pollution or something else that is going on out there that we are unaware of is affecting that oyster spatfall.
‘These were fisheries that earned enough money for fisherman to sustain their basic living for the year and anything else they had was profit.
‘These were the golden eggs. The golden eggs of the fishery we’ve lost.’
The ban is on hold for a four week period from November 1 in Langstone Harbour, as there are believed to be higher numbers of oysters across this part of the Solent.
There will be no fishing anywhere else up until the close of oyster fishing season on February 28.