Adventurer Fogle kicks off oyster restoration project

Ben Fogle with oysters to be planted in cages in the Solent
Ben Fogle with oysters to be planted in cages in the Solent
Pam Hamilton with her Echivaria Cristate winner of the Cristate class''(180386-224)

Members of society show off their prickly passion

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Adventurer Ben Fogle was in Hamble today as part a project to reintroduce one million oysters to the Solent after the industry was ‘decimated’ by over-fishing.

The TV presenter joined volunteers from the Blue Marine Foundation to begin placing 10,000 oysters in cages suspended under the pontoons of MDL Marinas in Hamble, Hampshire.

As reported in The News, he cages will be used by marinas and boat owners along the south coast including at Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR headquarters in Portsmouth.

Ben said: ‘The idea to get involved in a project that can benefit the marine environment as well as the local economy and tourism was something I was keen to support.

‘The Solent was once the biggest oyster fishery in Europe, 450 boats and 700 plus fishermen were employed here taking up to 15 million oysters every single year and that got decimated, it was simply over-fished.’

He added: ‘My experiences traversing the world’s oceans have opened my eyes to the scale of marine destruction. The humble oyster is an incredibly powerful ecosystem engineer, capable of filtering 200 litres of water a day and supporting marine life.

‘Restoring the native oyster to the Solent would be another step closer to turning the tide against the large-scale degradation of our oceans.’

The native oyster population in the UK has halved during the past 25 years, while globally an estimated 85 per cent of oyster beds and reef habitats have been lost.

A Blue spokeswoman said: ‘The restoration of the native oyster will provide wide-ranging ecological and social benefits.’