Scotland: information campaign launched to save Scotlands native oysters Published: 15 December, 2005
A NEW information campaign to save Scotlands threatened native oysters will be launched today in Argyll by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Strathclyde Police, Argyll and Bute Council and The Crown Estate. Leaflets and posters will be distributed throughout the West coast of Scotland to urge people to watch out for oyster poachers in the run-up to the festive period, which is a peak season for oyster consumption. The native oyster once supported a prolific fishery in several parts of Scotland, the most famous being in the Firth of Forth, but there are now only a few dwindling and isolated populations left on the West coast. In the past over harvesting, diseases and chemical pollution were all factors in the native oysters decline, while today, the biggest threat to their recovery is unlawful harvesting from sea lochs. Collection of native oysters is unlawful without consent from The Crown Estate.
Jane Dodd, marine adviser for Scottish Natural Heritage said:
Christmas is a peak time for oyster consumption but many people are unaware of the plight of our native oyster or that it is unlawful to gather them without permission from The Crown Estate. The species has been reduced in numbers and distribution to a shadow of its former state and unlawful harvesting is now the main reason that the populations are under threat here in Scotland. This information campaign aims to raise awareness about the problem and encourage people to help by reporting any unlawful collection or other threats to the native oyster, as well as helping us to monitor populations by letting us know if you spot them.
The Native oyster (Ostrea edulis) is also known as the flat or common oyster and grows wild in the shallow coastal waters of Scotland. Native oysters are rounded in shape, unlike the non-native Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas), which is tear-drop shaped. Pacific oysters are more likely to be served in a restaurant in Scotland because they are the preferred for farming since they grow faster to a larger size.
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