The project, run by Scottish charity Seawilding and funded by the National Lottery, aims to restore native oysters that were once prevalent in Loch Craignish. Working with the community, the project aims to grow up to 1 million native oysters in a floating nursery at Loch Craignish, and to translocate the oysters to suitable pre-surveyed sea-bed sites around the loch. So far, they have restored 300,000 native oysters and they have expanded their native oyster nursery three-fold so they can meet their 1 million objective and to provide oyster stock to other restoration projects around the UK. In March 2022, Seawilding started another restoration project working with community groups in Wester Ross to restore native oysters to Loch Broom. Their aim is to restore 100,000 oysters a year to Loch Broom.
The project has partnered with local volunteer association CROMACH (Craignish Restoration of Marine and Coastal Habitats); the Ardfern Yacht Centre, Heart of Argyll Wildlife Organisation as well as the Institute of Aquaculture, Stirling University, The Roslin Institute and the Scottish Association of Marine Sciences.
All juvenile native oysters are being sourced from Morecambe Bay Hatchery.
Seawilding’s floating nursery on a longline enables them to grow oysters from 8-12mm up to a good size (between 8-15 grammes) for release on the seabed. They have not introduced additional culch as there is an abundance of cockle, oyster and horse mussel shell on the seabed. Once restored to the seabed, the oysters are closely monitored.
Their partnership with academic institutions will yield multiple research opportunities during the project lifetime. Additionally, they have suspended sponsored “Oyster Hoisters” beneath the Ardfern Yacht Centre pontoons to enable citizen science with seven local primary schools, yacht owners and the local community.