This year we begin several new research projects on the European Oyster living on the Essex coastline. This work is a collaboration between the University of Essex, Essex Wildlife Trust (EWT), Kent & Essex IFCA and of course the most important participants the Oyster fishermen and women and their families living all along our coastline. Much of this new work is undertaken by PhD students at the University of Essex. Sarah Allison who also works for EWT as a Living Seas programme coordinator is interested in the changes in the habitat of the Blackwater estuary that may influence the recruitment dynamics and distribution of the Oyster. Alice Lown is a NERC environment east DTP student , who with her CASE partners IFCA, and the EWT and the oysterman will be investigating the distribution, development and community ecology of the European Oyster.
Predation Experiments with Common Starfish (Asterias rubens), American tingles (Urasalpinx cinerea) and non-native Pacific Oysters (Ostrea gigas). Credit T. Cameron
At Essex this work is supervised by Dr Leanne Appleby-Hepburn, Professor Graham Underwood and Dr Tom Cameron (me), but in close collaboration with various stakeholders including Dr Jane Heywood from IFCA. These collaborations go further through the Native Oyster Working Group which has a wide community, industry, government, NGO and academic membership. We have generated funding support from NERC, ESRC and private stakeholders who are all interested in the conservation and management of this changing coastal marine landscape, and at the heart of this the fate of the declining stocks of native Oyster.