OYSTERS have returned to Lymington River thanks to a joint initiative by ferry company Wightlink and a conservation group.
The Blue Marine Foundation, a charity dedicated to restoring the world’s oceans, has placed cages of mature brood stock oysters near to Wightlink’s port as part of its Solent restoration project.
So far Blue Marine has returned 69,000 oysters to the Solent across 12 sites with a further 300 now in Lymington River.
As well as releasing millions of larvae, the oyster cages have shown to provide a refuge for other marine life.
Almost 100 different species have been found living inside them elsewhere, including critically endangered European eels, juvenile spiny seahorse and sea bass.
Wightlink’s chief executive Keith Greenfield said: “Oysters are very effective in improving water quality and removing pollutants – just one of them can filter up to 200 litres of water a day.
“We share the foundation’s aim to restore five million oysters to the Solent to re-establish a controlled fishery and are following its programme with interest.”
Solent project manager at Blue Marine, Jacob Kean-Hammerson, added: “We are delighted to be working with Wightlink with the introduction of a new brood stock cage site at the Lymington ferry terminal.”
When the project was first announced in 2016 there were ambitions for the return of the molluscs to help Lymington become the “oyster capital of the Solent”, boosting both the local environment and the economy.
It was hoped new breeding grounds could be planted on Lymington’s saltmarshes, in the Beaulieu River, and at Keyhaven.