Research Project | Oyster restoration in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters: locating suitable sites| Darwin Plus Local Scheme

24th April 2024

Research Project | Oyster restoration in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters: locating suitable sites| Darwin Plus Local Scheme

The University of Gibraltar, in partnership with HMGoG’s Department for Environment, Sustainability, Climate Change, Heritage, and Culture (a University of Gibraltar Associate Campus), successfully hosted its second Community of Practice meeting for the “Oyster Restoration in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters: Locating Suitable Sites” project.  Local attendees provided invaluable insights into the local environmental conditions and ecological communities.
They included representatives from the Gibraltar Sub-Aqua Association and GONHS. Additionally, leading international oyster specialists contributed to the project, with Professor Bill Sanderson from Heriot-Watt University and Dr. Philine Zu Ermgassen from Edinburgh University visiting Gibraltar in person to share their expertise. 
Historically, oysters were abundant in Gibraltar’s waters, evidenced by their shells found during archaeological digs and incorporated into the fabric of historic structures. Travellers in the 18th century wrote about “Gibraltar Oysters,” and the 1777 census listed two “oystermen.” Unfortunately, they disappeared during the 19th century.  
Oysters are remarkable ecosystem engineers. They filter and clean the water, increase oxygenation through circulation, and create reefs that trap carbon in their shells. This habitat provides shelter for various marine animals, such as fish and crabs, thereby enhancing marine biodiversity.  
Led by Dr. Darren Fa, this project aims to identify the best locations around Gibraltar where oysters can thrive. It is funded by the UK Government’s Darwin Plus Local scheme, which focuses on protecting unique biodiversity and enhancing resilience to climate change in the UK Overseas Territories. 
More information can be found here.