Loughs Agency has made the decision to suspend the Native Oyster Fishery in the Foyle area, with the closure coming into effect at 6am on 24th October 2023 and remaining in place until 6pm on 29th February 2024.
This decision was reached following an analysis of the latest stock assessment data, which is gathered by Loughs Agency scientists on an annual basis, direct feedback from licence holders and sampling of the catch by Loughs Agency fishery officers. The information obtained from the fishery has highlighted the need to prioritise conservation, with the evidence available supporting the earlier than usual suspension of the native oyster fishery.
Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency CEO, said: “The decision to close the native oyster fishery in the Foyle area at this juncture is not one we took lightly, but one we deemed essential to ensure the continued conservation of oyster stocks.
“We are fully aware of the impact that this suspension will have on our native oyster fishery stakeholders in relation to the fishing of oysters in Lough Foyle. However, it is imperative that we take decisions in a science-led approach with the future sustainability of the fishery and the viability of the oyster population in mind.
“Our marine scientists have provided evidence highlighting the necessity of this decision in order to ensure an acceptable biomass of spawning stock remains in the population for next season. They have also made clear that removal of 100% of the stock above the minimum landing size is not sustainable, and removing a large proportion of stock over 80mm this season could have a detrimental impact on future recruitment to the population.
“Our remit as a regulatory body allows us to make informed management decisions such as this in real time, which will help maintain a sustainable fishery for the future.”
The declaration can be viewed here.
Scientific data from the latest stock assessment can be viewed below.