Three years ago we invested in millions of tiny native oyster spat to regenerate our native oyster beds. As you can see from the pictures above the oysters are doing well and growing, but it takes time and patience.
When the spat arrived at the Fishery it was placed into special cages and hung out on racks in our river. The oysters are too small to go straight onto the seabed, the crabs will eat them or they will get washed out to sea. When the tide is up the seawater runs through the cages giving the spat a chance to feed from the nutrient rich waters. The cages are regularly checked and once a quarter all the oysters are brought back to the fishery so we can make sure they are well and growing.
Native oysters are slower growing than Rock oysters and it will take around 5 years for the oysters to get to a good edible size. This summer the oysters will be taken from the cages and put out onto the seabed where they will be left to roam and bask in the mud for another 2 years at least. The oyster boys will then go at low water and select the oysters by hand, picking the oysters that have reached the right sizes.
While the oysters are out on the mud, they will begin to spat naturally and should keep our native oyster beds stocked for the years to come.