Restore native oysters in Essex

Photos: Sarah Allison

ENORI – Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative Initiative

Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative

Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative (ENORI) is collaboration between the oystermen, scientists, conservationists and the UK government to restore native oysters in Essex, UK. Our shared vision is for the Essex estuaries to have self-sustaining populations of native oysters that provide ecosystem services, sustainable fisheries and increased biodiversity whilst recognising their cultural importance.
The project location is the Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Estuaries’ Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). This 284km2 marine protected area was designated in 2013 for both native oysters (the population) and native oyster beds (the habitat). By area, it is the largest restoration project in Europe.

We have two main recovery strategies within the MCZ:

  1. we have created a 200ha voluntary no-take Conservation Box where we are improving the substrate through the addition of shell and gravel cultch and building a ‘Mother Oyster’ broodstock sanctuary to increase recruitment,
  2. in the remaining 282km2 of protect area using adaptive management measures sustainable wild oyster fishery protected under Byelaw.

To understand our successes and possible failures in this new field of marine restoration, we are conducting extensive scientific monitoring.


Alison Debney