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22 Victoria Road
Northern Ireland
BT47 2AB

Tel: +44 (0) 28 7134 2100

Dundalk Street,
Co Louth,
Rep. of Ireland

Tel: +353 (0) 42 938 3888

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Spawning Assessments

The native oyster fishery in Lough Foyle is a completely natural, wild fishery. This means that the oysters are not enhanced in any way by human interference as is the case with shellfish farming.

Shellfish are dependent on natural conditions for growth and survival. They can be impacted by many different factors in the environment such as weather patterns and pollution. One such aspect of shellfish biology that can be limited by such factors is spawning activity.

Shellfish spawning is more similar in nature to plant pollination that many other forms of animal reproduction. Many shellfish broadcast eggs and sperm into the water column and they mix and fertilise. This fertilization process produces shellfish larvae that can be carried in water currents through the sea loughs and even out to the open sea. These larvae then drop to the seabed and attach themselves to stones and other material in a process called settlement.

The Agency monitors the spawning activity of native oysters in Lough Foyle to identify if spawning activity is occurring or not and to estimate the extent of successful spawning.

This work involves taking samples of oysters and looking at the development of their reproductive material as well as looking for shellfish larvae in water samples under a microscope.