Monday, 18 May 2009

RESEARCHING OYSTERS IN THANET

Thanet district Council press release

The first phase of research into Pacific oysters along the Thanet coastline has been completed.

Thanet Coastal Warden Willie McKnight has been working with the Thanet Coast Project and Natural England to map the distribution and density of Pacific oysters.

The Pacific oyster is native to south east Asia and Japan, but was introduced to the UK in the 1960s by the government. Under quarantine, hatchery techniques were developed, followed by cultivation trials. The purpose was to find an alternative species to supplement the shellfish industry, following the decline of the native oyster and the ending of imported American and Portuguese oysters. Commercial hatcheries and cultivation sites now operate around the UK, including one which has been operating at Reculver since 1974. <>

In March 2007, a Shoresearch Event, held by the Kent Wildlife Trust, highlighted the spread of Pacific oysters throughout the European marine sites. This concern was passed on to the Scientific Coastal Advisory Group of the North East Kent European Marine Sites in April 2007, where a commitment was made to investigate further the impacts that the oysters may be having on the designated sites.

In recognition of the importance of this issue, Natural England has commissioned a second phase of the project to look at the monitoring of priority sites around the coast, recruitment and impacts on other animals and habitats within the designated sites. This phase of the project began in February 2009.

Information from these studies will be used to inform the future management of Pacific oysters around the Thanet Coast and within the NEKEMS Management Scheme. The full results will be produced later this year in a Natural England Research Report.

For further information contact the Thanet Coast Project, or view details about the current Management Scheme at http://www.thanetcoast.org.uk/

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