Loughs Agency have developed a project to address the decline of the native oyster in Lough Foyle. The project will use habitat improvements and broodstock management to help to improve native oyster stocks.
The breeding success of native oysters in Lough Foyle is low due a number of environmental factors. These factors can have a negative impact on both breeding success of adult oysters and the survival of juvenile oysters. This means that there is not a successful spawning event for native oysters in Lough Foyle every year. As a result the population is declining because there arenâ€™t always young oysters maturing and reaching adulthood. In order to try to address this problem, Loughs Agency plans to develop purpose built spatting ponds at Ture, Muff, County Donegal.
Adult Native oysters from Lough Foyle will be placed in these ponds at the time of spawning. This will improve the chances of successful breeding and will mean that the resulting juveniles will be in a safe, enclosed area, protected from predators, tidal influences and other environmental factors which may be detrimental to their survival. The aim is to harvest these juveniles from the spatting ponds and put them back into the Lough once they are old enough, and so adding to the existing wild population. It is hoped that over time this will improve the overall numbers of native oysters in Lough Foyle.