North Sea flat oyster conservation alliance formed

North Sea Oyster

A new European alliance for the conservation of the European flat oyster has been established.

If successful, it could see the water quality and biodiversity of the North Sea greatly improved.

The European flat oyster represents a key species with important ecological functions and ecosystem services in the marine ecosystem. As reef structures, oyster beds provide food and habitat for numerous species and, in addition, serve as nursery grounds for many fish species.

However, stocks of the European flat oyster (Ostrea edulis) are classified as highly endangered all over Europe – it is considered to be extinct in large parts of Europe and the German North Sea.

Intensive and over-exploiting fishery activities across Europe led to serious decline in the mid-20th century and since then habitat loss, cold winters and diseases have prevented the regeneration of this species.

For the first time, experts from across the continent have agreed on common European restoration strategies.

University of Portsmouth Marine Biologist Dr Joanne Preston is a founder member of the new European Native Oyster Restoration Alliance (NORA). This European network aims at reinforcement and restoration of this rare and endangered species.

Dr Preston said: “The long-term goals of the alliance are to re-establish the native European flat oyster as a former key species in the North Sea and adjacent European seas as well as to extensively restore species-rich reef structures. In the future, regulated fishing activities within specified areas may be possible once the goals are achieved.”

Read the full article at EurekAlert!

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