The Loughs Agency has imposed a four-month ban on native oyster fishing in Lough Foyle.
Local native oyster season normally runs from September to April but the Loughs Agency has suspended it this winter to preserve stocks.
The native oyster fishery will not operate from now until 6pm on October on 29 February 2024.
Loughs Agency CEO Sharon McMahon said the decision had not been taken lightly.
“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,” she said.
Natives are a variety of flat oyster and Lough Foyle is home to one of the last large populations.
The lough straddles the North of Ireland and the Republic, from Greencastle Fort in Donegal to Magilligan in Co Derry.
Ms McMahon said the agency’s marine scientists had provided evidence highlighting the necessity of this decision to ensure an acceptable biomass of spawning stock remained in the population for next season.
Native oyster reefs were once aplenty in European seas but it is estimated that populations have declined by 95% over the last 300 years.
Now native oyster reefs are one of the most threatened habitats in Europe.
One of the main causes of this huge decline is historic overfishing, but habitat loss, disease, pollution and invasive non-native species are all contributors.Tags: