The native oysters from Mersea Island in Essex are in serious decline. Although there are still some larger oysters environmentalists are failing to find any smaller ones which is a sign that the the ecosystem is in decline.
To try to reverse the decline the oyster beds on Mersea Island have been closed to commercial fishing. The fishing ban has been set by Essex Wildlife Trust and Blackwater Oystermen’s Association.
This news will affect some local businesses, such as Richard Hawards Oysters, who have been fishing Mersea oysters for 7 generations.
The Oyster Bar on Mersea Island may also suffer if the the local oysters do not recover soon. They are a Local Oyster Specialist, but do serve an excellent range of fish and seafood. However, a vital part of their business is to deliver oysters to London restaurants. Their website states:
“Cultivated in the creeks around Mersea Island, these oysters thrive in the waters surrounded by marshland. Our company sends one million Native and Rock oysters a year to top London restaurants, Brussels, Paris & Hong Kong.”
They also serve Colchester Natives (No.3s) and Mersea Island Rocks.
The West Mersea Oyster Dredging Match, due to be held on Sunday 9th September, is still going ahead – details on their website: http://www.mersearegatta.org.uk/dredgingmatch.htm
Hopefully the conservation methods that are being put in place will protect the native Mersea Island oysters and numbers will recover to normal levels within a few years.
Photo of oysters by David Monniaux.