Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative (ENORI)

Project Aim: Species restoration

The Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative is an exciting collaboration, established in 2011, between oystermen, nature conservation organisations, academia and UK Government regulators, it is the largest marine restoration project by area in the UK.

This project will focus on recovering native oysters in the Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Estuaries. Native oyster fishing and cultivation has long been at the heart of coastal communities in Essex. The Romans popularised the oyster in Essex, notably in Mersea, where a strong culture of native oyster cultivation has been taking place in the Blackwater since 1377 and which continues today. Native oyster numbers have decreased by over 95% and native oyster beds are one of the most threaten marine habitats in Europe. The Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) is unique as the only MCZ designated as a protected area for oyster beds and for the habitat they provide.

ENORI aims to repopulate the Essex MCZ and restore the natural habitat to allow the oysters to recruit successfully and for their numbers to grow back to historic levels. The overall goal of this project is that native oyster populations and beds in the Essex MCZ are self-sustaining and provide biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable fisheries and cultural benefits.

Key stats
  • 25,000 mature oysters (40-50 mm) deployed to date
  • This year a further 10,000 mature oysters will be deployed
  • In 2020, another 10,000 mature oysters will be deployed



Many thanks to Luke Helmer, David Smyth, Alice Lown and the Solent Oyster Restoration Project for providing images used on this page!