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Replenishing the Seas with Native Oyster Spat

The first stock of native flat oysters released into the ocean by Orkney Shellfish Hatchery has taken place.

The release, which saw more than 11,000 of Orkney Shellfish Hatchery’s land-grown, premium native oyster spat planted into the ocean on the west coast of Scotland, was orchestrated by a Scottish restoration project dedicated to replenishing depleting shellfish stocks in Scotland’s seas. 

The sale of spat to a project of this nature aligns with the hatchery’s mission to become the market-leading producer of the highest quality native oyster spat and supports its continued focus on aiding the restoration of Europe’s plummeting shellfish stocks.

The benefit of increasing the number of healthy native oyster spat within the ocean improves the quality of the ocean’s reefs, where oysters are widely recognised for providing shelter and food to other coastal species, including commercially important fish and shellfish. Oysters also provide natural seawater filtration and, through habitat formation, provide carbon sequestration.

Commenting on the release, Dr Nik Sachlikidis, Managing Director of the Cadman Capital Group’s Aquaculture portfolio, of which Orkney Shellfish Hatchery forms part of, said: 

“Since inception in 2017, we have invested heavily into the latest hatchery technologies and bio-secure systems in a bid to ensure we only produce the highest quality shellfish products. Not only does this ensure that our products are given the very best chance of wild survival, but it also mitigates the risk of adding further diseases to our seas. 

“Seeing the first release of our native oyster spat into the ocean is a huge milestone for our team and hatchery and is just the start of many releases we hope to do alongside restoration projects at a global scale.”

Since the release, the hatchery has made additional spat sales to local oyster farming companies, who will further grow the oysters to market size. This is another way in which the hatchery supports the wider aquaculture industry, by providing native oysters that can be further developed for commercial sale and thus reducing the need for wild harvesting.

Orkney Shellfish Hatchery continues to focus its efforts on growing high quality shellfish products and plans are in place for the first release of its European lobster product later this year.

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