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Boffins rescue British oysters

UK - Boffins in Weymouth are helping British oysters back on to the menu after decades of decline.

Scientists at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) have carried out a groundbreaking probe into the native oyster population.

The native European oyster species has steadily declined over the past century.

Now oysters are set to flourish after the work by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) scientists at CEFAS and the Central Science Laboratory.

CEFAS senior scientist Ian Laing said: "The native oyster is still a commercially important species for many fishermen, and after decades of decline we believe there is a programme in place to protect it.

"The solid return of the native oyster would be a benefit to UK coasts both in terms of economics and biodiversity and we are working to ensure it continues to thrive in the future."

The native European oyster was once abundant in UK coastal waters but declined over the past century because of pests, pollutants, severe winters and over-fishing.

The oyster was known as the 'food of the poor' in the 1880s due to its ubiquity but oyster numbers hit rock bottom in the 1980s and scientists feared the species would be unable to regenerate.

But a Biodiversity Action Plan of Great Britain was developed in the mid-1990s and researchers are now sure that oysters can be successfully reintroduced.

Source: Dorset Echo