Land Rover BAR and MDL Marinas partner for Solent Oyster Revival project

Land Rover BAR has joined forces with MDL Marinas to help the efforts of the Blue Marine Foundation to support their project to revive the Solent’s oyster population.

According to a recent press release from MDL, Land Rover BAR is committed to sustainability, working alongside their partners, 11th Hour Racing to become the most sustainable sports team in the UK.

When Land Rover BAR moved to Portsmouth, the team soon identified a natural threat to the natural ecosystem of the Solent, with the area having once supported an oyster trade worth millions of pounds. In recent years, the area has seen a rapid decline in the native oyster population, and therefore the subsequent collapse of the oyster fishery in the area.

Scientists don’t fully understand the reasons for this decline, but poaching, dredging, water quality and temperature are all likely to be amongst the culprits. The project’s concept was therefore simple: To nurture protected cages of adult oysters at the team base, which are then replicated on pontoons to reproduce and ‘reseed’ the wider fishery.

The Blue Marine Foundation charity was already working on a study funded by the marina company, MDL, which has a network of its UK marina facilities based along the Solent waterway; looking into the feasibility of using marinas to regenerate a fishery.

A team was therefore put together to work with the Blue Foundation idea, with Land Rover BAR set to host the trial, the Portsmouth Institute of Marine Science ready to monitor the science and carry out the research, while MDL developed the pontoons.

Oysters were provided by the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA), which worked with local fishermen to relocate oysters from an area that was due to be dredged to deepen the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour.

Jo Meekly, project manager at MDL Marinas explained, “MDL has developed a pontoon structure that can be attached to any standard pontoon that will house the oysters in an environment that will hopefully lead to their successful reproduction.”

At the end of November, the first set of oyster cages were installed on the Land Rover BAR pontoon on the Camber in Portsmouth.

“Dr Joanne Preston of the Institute of Marine Sciences at Portsmouth University commented, “It’s fantastic to see stage one complete, the oysters are in so we can now start collecting the data to gain a better understanding into what is happening to the oysters and the ecosystem around them.” 

Dr Susie Tomson, Land Rover BAR’s sustainability manager said, “It has been great to pull all the parties together to realise the common goal to restore a local ecosystem, and whilst we are a long way off the total recovery, it’s a positive start and a great collaborative effort.” 

For more information, visit MDL Marinas.

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