Why native oysters?
The native oyster (Ostrea Edulis) is distinct from the oysters which you normally buy in fishmongers and restaurants. These are non-native Pacific oysters (Crassostrea Gigas) and are grown commercially in farms. The native oyster is more slow-growing and generally a far superior beast.
Native oysters* are “ecosystem engineers”, filtering and cleaning water, sequestering carbon and contributing substantially to inshore biodiversity by creating reefs that become fish spawning grounds and nurseries. Once native oysters were common and the food of the masses. In the Firth of Forth for example, 60 million were harvested annually, but now, globally, an estimated 85% of native oyster beds have disappeared. In recognition of their importance for ecosystem health, efforts are now being made to restore native oysters worldwide. Visit UK Native Oyster Network to learn more.
Loch Craignish once supported a large population of native oysters, but owing to human predation, and possibly disease, all but a very few have gone. The extensive shoreline is littered with large native oyster shells, some of them weighing a colossal 800 grammes, and the conditions appear right for restoration.