PLANS to return millions of oysters to the sea in a bid to clean up the Solent get underway today.
TV presenter and University of Portsmouth graduate Ben Fogle has linked up with marine conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation to take part.
Both are teaming up with MDL Marinas, Land Rover BAR and the University of Portsmouth for the project, which will see a team of volunteers fill cages of 10,000 native oysters suspended underneath the pontoons of MDL’s marinas on the Solent.
Under the project, a million oysters will be reintroduced per year over the course of five years.
The aim is to significantly increase the population of the native oysters in the Solent by 2020 as it has halved across the UK over the past 25 years.
Ben will be with a team of volunteers at MDL’s Port Hamble marina today.
Restoring the native oyster to the Solent would be another step closer to turning the tide against the large-scale degradation of our oceans, and giving something back to the UK’s inshore waters which provide us with so many benefitsBen Fogle, broadcaster and University of Portsmouth graduate
He said: ‘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, and giving something back to the UK’s inshore waters which provide us with so many benefits.’
The first of many thousands of oysters will be moved to permanent housing today in unique cage-like structures.
These cages will then be lowered at the MDL marinas in Hamble Point, Port Hamble, Sparkes Marina in Chichester Harbour and Saxon Wharf in Southampton.
They will also be suspended under pontoons at the university and at Land Rover BAR’s headquarters in Old Portsmouth.
According to BLUE, restoring the oyster population would dramatically improve the marine environment due to an oyster’s filtering ability.
Dean Smith, commercial director of MDL Marinas said: ‘Helping to restore the native oyster population is one of the many ways that the boating community can give back to the ocean and improve the local waters around us for our future enjoyment.’