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Displaying items by tag: Oyster

A Co Louth oyster company has invested €535,000 in an upgrade with the support of a €142,000 grant under the Brexit Sustainable Aquaculture Growth Scheme.

The award-winning Carlingford Oyster Company, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is producing 2,500 tonnes annually – the equivalent of 2.5 million oysters – and hopes to increase European exports.

The aquaculture growth scheme is funded by the EU under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve and administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

Carlingford Oyster Company was founded by Dutchman Peter Louët Feisser, who sailed into Carlingford Lough on a wooden yacht with his wife Anne in the late 1960s. The visit was intended to be short, part of an epic journey around the world.

Mesmerised by the lough’s natural beauty, the couple fell in love with the area - and didn’t go home.

Some of the delicious harvest from Carlingford Oyster Company in Co LouthSome of the delicious harvest from Carlingford Oyster Company in Co Louth

Louët Feisser had been incarcerated in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp when his family lived in the then Dutch colony of Indonesia during the second world war. The Japanese military had taken over the colony in 1942 and put Dutch nationals in internment facilities.

After spending a few years in Co Louth, he heard by chance an item on BBC Radio 4 about oyster growing. He was enthralled, and in 1974 the Carlingford Oyster Company was born.

Now aged 86 and officially retired Peter can still be found working in the lough at low tide with his son Kian who today runs the multiple award-winning family business with his wife Mary.

According to Kian the recent investment has seen significant improvements and efficiencies at the company.

“Oyster farming is very labour intensive and the investment was designed to make the company more competitive, and to secure the livelihoods of our team and my family,”he says.

“The premises were built in 1992 and it was a big open space and we really needed to upgrade,”he adds.

“The work included extending our production facility, adding equipment to help us segregate and grade oysters and improvements in the dispatch areas. Modernising our working environment has supported us meeting the evolving requirements of food safety inspections, and the expectations of our customers when visiting our premises,”he says.

The company added new depuration tanks with cutting edge water skimming technology; a forklift, a pallet truck, a new water grader and floating oyster growing bags.

At its peak last summer the business employed 30 local people. Britain represents about 60% of total sales with approximately 20% of sales in Ireland. The company is currently focusing on sales in mainland Europe with support from BIM and Bord Bia.

It takes over three years for Carlingford Oysters to reach maturity.

“They are rich in protein and low in fat with exceptionally high levels of trace elements such as iodine, iron, selenium copper and zinc,”Kian Louët Feisser says.

“Taking advantage of the perfect growing conditions available in the lough, Carlingford Oysters are as natural and pure as food can be.”

Carlingford Oyster Company was one of the first farms to grow gigas oysters, the frilly Pacific variety that is now well-loved across Ireland, but was rather novel at the time.

In recent years a visitor experience with farm tours and oyster master classes was added, all part of a plan to improve the customer experience and to give people an incentive to come and visit and taste the product.

Last month, Carlingford Oyster Company hosted 15 London-based Michelin Star chefs on a trip organised by Bethnal Green Fish Supplies and supported by Boyne Valley Flavours, Sea Louth Seafood Trail and local restaurants.

“Without the support of BIM and the Brexit funding we would not have been able to achieve all we have under this investment, and we are very grateful. The future is certainly looking bright,”Kian Louët Feisser says.

Published in Aquaculture
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Two Irish Oyster yachts, Tír na nÓg and Rí-Rá, have arrived at the Marquesas Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean as part of the Oyster Round the World rally that began in January, after an adventurous journey. 

Bob Rendell's Oyster 565 sailed across 3,300 miles from the Galápagos Islands, facing rough weather conditions in the waters of the Pacific. Dun Laoghaire brothers Patrick and Hugh Blaney's Oyster 675 Rí-Rá also completed the leg.

the Tír na nÓg crew faced a major challenge during their journey when their autopilot malfunctioned, and they had to hand steer for much of the leg.

The Oyster Round the World rally at anchorThe Oyster Round the World rally at anchor

Meanwhile, following high demand for the Oyster World Rally, the British manufacturer of luxury bluewater sailing yachts is inviting global adventurers to a circumnavigation-focused showcase at St Katharine Docks in London from 24-26 April.

The Oyster World Rally is a luxury sailing circumnavigation spanning 16 months. Covering 27,000nm and visiting 27 destinations, a fleet of 30 Oyster Yachts complete the voyage with the reassurance of personalised 24/7 support from Oyster’s dedicated Rally Team.

After announcing dates for the Oyster World Rally 2028-29 earlier this month, Oyster has seen unprecedented demand for places ahead of the official open date for entries on 18 June 2024, with the Oyster World Rally 2026-27 now fully subscribed.

Published in Cruising
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Two Irish yachts, Tír na nÓg (Robert Rendell of Howth) and Rí-Rá (Patrick and Hugh Blaney of Dun Laoghaire) were part of a twenty-one Oyster yacht fleet that crossed the start line of the Oyster World Rally at Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua, on Sunday afternoon.

The Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Rodney Williams, fired the cannon to the 27,000-mile, 16-month adventure that will take in some 27 destinations and explore some of the world's most spectacular cruising grounds. Oyster Yachts Chief Executive Ashley Highfield was also at the starting ceremony on Fort Charlotte, Antigua and Oyster's CCO, Paul Adamson, a former sailing instructor at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The fleet will meet again in Panama for their transit through the canal in mid-February.

It has been an emotional and exciting build-up to the start of the 16-month adventure. Some of the fleet arrived in Antigua in mid-December, taking part in the ARC Rally, as Afloat reported here, the traditional delivery passage to the Caribbean for Europe-based yachts. Number 565 Tír na nÓg and 675 Rí-Rá both finished in the top ten of the ARC fleet.

All the crews have spent the past few weeks building up to this day, ensuring their boats are fully ready for this experience-of-a-lifetime event. They have participated in safety training, weather briefings, technical workshops and more - all supported by the Oyster Technical and Logistics Team, who will be on hand for the whole event to support and advise the fleet.

The first stop for the Rally will be Shelter Bay, Panama, where the fleet will all come together ahead of transiting the Panama Canal.

"Logistically, this is one of the trickiest parts of this edition of the Rally, as lack of water in the lake that feeds the canal has put additional pressure on the number of recreational boats allowed to transit at one time. However, we are hopeful that we should be able to keep with our current schedule of arriving in Galapagos, our second stopover, in early March," comments Oyster World Rally Director, Allie Smith.

Published in Cruising
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Diver, sailor and coffee distributor David Lawlor is not that mad about oysters – he’ll eat them out of politeness – but he is mad about what they can do as keystone species in stabilising marine habitats.

That’s why he wants to re-introduce them to Dublin Bay as part of a community initiative which will be supported by Green Ocean Coffee, part of Lawlor’s Watermark Coffee brand.

It is two centuries since Dublin Bay had healthy populations of oysters, and his vision is to develop a broodstock which will multiply over time in sufficient numbers to form reefs.

These reefs can then provide a natural alternative to hard engineering defences against coastal erosion, and can also help to restore inshore habitats, including seagrass beds, he says.

"Lawlor is passionate about seeking solutions to mitigate the impact of climate change"

Lawlor is passionate about seeking solutions to mitigate the impact of climate change, and describes oysters as the marine equivalent of the “canary in a mine” in measuring the health of the marine environment.

He is starting out what may be a 15 to 20-year project with a pilot, cultivating a series of “oyster gardens” in several yacht marinas at Poolbeg, Malahide and Dun Laoghaire.

A University College Dublin (UCD) PhD student, Brian Rice, is working with him on the pilot, which has all necessary permissions, and Lawlor says he hopes it will lead to a not-for-profit model if it expands.

Lawlor is funding the pilot from his Green Ocean coffee brand, which is also supporting a project to restore seabed habitats in Clew Bay, Co Mayo.

The project will be looking for volunteers to manage the oyster gardens, and interested participants should email [email protected]

Listen to the podcast below

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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Loughs Agency, the regulatory body for fisheries in Northern Ireland, has announced the suspension of the Native Oyster Fishery in the Foyle area starting from 6 am on October 24th, 2023, until 6 pm on February 29th, 2024.

The decision was reached after analyzing the latest stock assessment data, direct feedback from license holders, and sampling of the catch by Loughs Agency fishery officers.

The decision to close the fishery was made to prioritise conservation as the evidence available suggests the need to ensure the continued sustainability of the oyster population. Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency CEO, stated that the decision was not taken lightly but is essential to maintain the biomass of spawning stock and the viability of the oyster population.

The decision will have a significant impact on the native oyster fishery stakeholders who will be unable to fish oysters in Lough Foyle during the closure period. However, the regulatory body is committed to taking decisions in a science-led approach to ensure the future sustainability of the fishery.

The marine scientists at Loughs Agency have provided evidence supporting the decision to ensure an acceptable biomass of spawning stock remains in the population for next season. They have also highlighted that removing 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.

Loughs Agency's remit as a regulatory body allows them to make informed management decisions in real-time, helping maintain a sustainable fishery for the future.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Oysters growing under the pontoons in Bangor Marina are well hidden, but they still need ongoing attention. To this end, Ulster Wildlife is looking for volunteers to help monitor the native oyster nurseries and record their development.

The native oyster has been considered extinct in Belfast Lough since 1903. However, in the summer of 2020, live oysters were discovered for the first time in over 100 years – evidence that the environmental conditions for establishment are right.

A native oyster nursery in Bangor Marina will support the precarious population in Belfast Lough and help create a natural long-term carbon store to tackle climate change.

There will be training for those interested in finding out more about the role of volunteer and how you can sign up.

The Marine Conservation Manager Heidi McIlvenny will introduce the project and talk through the role of the volunteer, as well as show how to survey the nurseries safely and record the results

The training dates are 18th and 26th August at 2 pm and you can register your interest with the Volunteer Coordinator Sheila Lyons at [email protected] or call 07703 673217.

There is more information at and you can read more about the project here 

Published in Aquaculture
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Hundreds of native oysters have returned to Belfast Lough as part of efforts to bring the ‘ocean superheroes’ back from the brink of extinction.

The ambitious aquaculture restoration project, officially launched on Friday (20 May) by Ulster Wildlife to mark Endangered Species Day, sees approximately 700 mature oysters suspended in cages under the pontoons of Bangor Marina.

As previously reported on, this creates the first native oyster (Ostrea edulis) nursery of its kind on the island of Ireland.

As sea temperatures warm over the coming months, the 24 nursery cages will generate millions of oyster larvae which will settle on the seabed, helping the native oyster population recover while also boosting biodiversity and improving water quality in the lough.

Belfast Lough once supported a prolific native oyster fishery. However, overfishing, habitat loss, disease, pollution and invasive introduced species contributed to the population becoming extinct and the fishery closing in 1903.

Since then, 100 years of surveys failed to document one living specimen, until 2020 when researchers from Bangor University and Queen’s University Belfast discovered 42 live oysters at six sites around the lough.

Heidi McIlvenny, marine conservation manager at Ulster Wildlife and who is leading the project, says: “We are still unsure how or why native oysters returned to Belfast Lough, but it indicates that the environmental conditions are right for them to establish here again. But, if they are to bounce back, they need our help.

“The biggest barrier to the recovery of the native oyster is a low number of mature reproducing oysters. The nurseries we have established at Bangor Marina are full of mature oysters that will act as larval pumps, increasing the number of oysters in the Lough and helping to restore this incredible ocean superhero for years to come.”

Boosting the lough’s fragile oyster population will also bring important benefits for other marine life, Heidi says.

“A single oyster can filter up to 200 litres of seawater, equivalent to a bathtub, per day, significantly improving water quality and reducing pollution levels. The larvae once established will also create healthy native oyster reefs in the lough, providing shelter and food for an abundance of marine wildlife, including commercially fished species, along with potential carbon storage.”

Special permissions were granted to relocate the shellfish from Loch Ryan in Scotland. They were screened for disease and cleaned on arrival before being installed in the nurseries. 

Volunteers will conduct ‘health checks’ every week to ensure the oysters are thriving in their new homes. Monthly biodiversity surveys will also track changes in marine life in and around the nurseries, which form their own unique micro-habitat.

Kevin Baird, harbour master at Bangor Marina, says: “We are delighted to be supporting the recovery of our most threatened marine species.

“Housing the oyster nurseries under the pontoons is an innovative use of the space we have available and is a great opportunity for the marina to become an outdoor classroom, where people of all ages can get hands-on with marine conservation in an urban environment.”

The oyster restoration project is funded by the DAERA Challenge Fund. Find out more at

Published in Aquaculture

In November last year, Bangor Marina in partnership with the Ulster Wildlife Trust made plans to establish the first native oyster nursery in Northern Ireland.

The earliest report of a recognised commercial oyster fishery in Belfast Lough was in the late 18th century and the native oyster has been considered extinct there since 1903.

But in the summer of 2020, live oysters were discovered for the first time in over 100 years – evidence that the environmental conditions for establishment are right.

Now the plans have come to fruition and Ulster Wildlife helped by Marina staff, have hung twenty-six nursery cages underneath F, G and H Pontoons.

Marina manager Kevin Baird said he and the staff are super excited about this project. Similar schemes have been established in other parts of the UK, but this is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Oysters recovered in Bangor MarinaOysters recovered in Bangor Marina

An oyster nursery is a micro-habitat housing about 27 mature oysters that will reproduce and release the next generation of oyster larvae to settle out on the seabed of Bangor Bay and Belfast Lough. An individual oyster can release up to 1 million larvae per year!

Published in Irish Marinas
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Did you know that our Native oysters have been an important food source for centuries - the Romans even exported them back to Italy!

The first report of a recognised commercial oyster fishery in Belfast Lough was in 1780 and although the native oyster has been considered extinct there since 1903, in the summer of 2020, live oysters were discovered for the first time in over 100 years – evidence that the environmental conditions for establishment are right.

The charity, Ulster Wildlife Trust, is hoping to establish the first native oyster nursery in Northern Ireland in Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough to support the declining population and to help create a natural long-term carbon store to tackle climate change. So under F, G and H Pontoons, Ulster Wildlife's Heidi McIlvenny with Harbour Master Kevin Baird and his staff will deploy a native oyster nursery.

Highly prized Loch Ryan OystersHighly prized Loch Ryan Oysters

Around 26 cages will be suspended under the pontoon walkways and will be populated with highly prized Loch Ryan Oysters. The Loch Ryan Oyster Bed, one of Scotland’s largest, dates to 1701 when King William 111 granted a Royal Charter to the Wallace family.

The native or flat oyster stays fixed in one place and is a filter feeder meaning it uses its valves to pump water filtering out microscopic algae and small organic particles from the surrounding water. A single oyster can filter up to 200 litres of seawater per day, which can significantly improve water quality and clarity.

Already thriving in another Marina in Conwy Wales, over time the oysters will start releasing oyster larvae into the harbour which will be carried out to settle on the seabed, ultimately resulting in cleaner waters and better marine biodiversity.

Classified as a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework and a Feature of Conservation Importance for which Marine Conservation Zones can be designated, the oyster has a lifespan of six years.

Harbour Master Kevin Baird would like to get local schools involved after the oysters are in place. “It’s a great environmental project with many very positive benefits”. He added “There will be no disruption to marine traffic”.

Published in Belfast Lough

The Loughs Agency is now inviting interested parties to apply for a licence to fish the 2020/2021 native oyster fishery in Lough Foyle.

Applicants will be required to submit a completed application form by post only (standard delivery, not recorded delivery) due to coronavirus restrictions to:

Loughs Agency Headquarters
22 Victoria Road
BT47 2AB
Northern Ireland

Applicants are also asked not to send additional documents or payment, only the application.

The licence fee is £150 or €166 with fees payable on receipt of licence.

Anyone who held a licence to fish the Lough Foyle native oyster fishery last season will receive an application pack via post.

If you do not receive a pack or you did not hold a licence last season but wish to apply this year, please either download a form or contact +44 (0) 28 71 342100 (lines open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) to receive a hard copy via post.

Interested parties must have completed applications with the Loughs Agency on or before Friday 31 July. No late applications will be accepted.

Published in Fishing
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