Bangor Marina in Northern Ireland becomes the second boatfolk marina to support the rewilding of native oysters. This project is the first of its type in Northern Ireland and forms a part of boatfolk’s Coastline Deadline initiative.
Historically oysters have been present in the waters surrounding Bangor Marina, with the first recognised commercial oyster fishery in Belfast Lough established in 1780. From that point oysters formed a part of local history until 1903 when they were seen to become extinct.
In the summer of 2020 these superheroes of the sea were discovered at a secret location in Belfast Lough, the first time in over 100 years. This discovery suggests that conditions for rewilding are ideal, making it the perfect time for establishing an oyster nursery.
Working in partnership with the charity Ulster Wildlife Trust boatfolk are helping establish the first native oyster nursery on Belfast Lough. Twenty-six cages will be tethered and suspended under the hammerhead pontoons F, G and H in the marina. The oyster cages (or oyster hotels) are relatively small and will sit about 1 metre beneath the surface.
Oysters feed on microscopic algae and small organic particles. They filter around 200 litres of seawater each day resulting in significantly improved water quality and clarity. Over time it is expected that these Oysters will release larvae into the marina waters which will eventually settle on the seabed, cleaning the waters and facilitating better marina biodiversity around Bangor Bay.
In addition to the great environmental impact of these oysters there will be plenty of educational opportunities for local school children who wish to learn more about the local sea life and aquaculture.
To find out more about the native oyster project you can head over to the Ulster Wildlife Trust website here. You can also catch up on an interview about the project on BBC Radio 4 here (listen at 1.22). If you’d like to learn more about the other Coastline Deadline projects, click here.
First photo: boatfolk team, Kevin (Harbour Master) and Ewan (Berthing Master) with one of the 26 oyster cages
Second photo: Ann (BBC sound engineer), Philip (Berthing Master), Heidi (Ulster Wildlife) Mishal Husain (BBC Today Programme)