Did you know that the UK’s only native oyster, Ostrea edulis, is in decline, with a 95% drop in population numbers due to overfishing, disease, pollution and habitat loss? 

But you can help us to protect this vulnerable species and reverse its decline by supporting BSAC’s Operation Oyster. 

operation oyster

One of the largest environmental projects ever organised by BSAC, Operation Oyster aims to engage members, divers and snorkellers in helping to rehabilitate the UK’s vulnerable native oyster beds. 

Operation Oyster is a nationwide citizen science project through which divers and snorkellers can contribute to the data held on the native oyster populations around the British Isles.

Working with our partners – the Zoological Society London (ZSL), University of Portsmouth, the Blue Marine Foundation and Seawilding – all the data gathered by Operation Oyster will directly support the long-term restoration of the oysters’ natural habitat and ultimately increase their population numbers around the UK.

How to get involved with Operation Oyster

Why the UK’s native oyster urgently needs our support

The UK’s native oyster (Ostrea edulis) is under ever-increasing environmental stress. The population has declined by an alarming 95% over the past 200 years due to historical overfishing, disease, pollution and loss of its habitat.

Once abundant around the UK’s coastline, the decline of our native oysters also has consequences for the wider environment, with oyster beds playing an essential role in filtering seawater and boosting biodiversity. And as we increasingly look to protecting the ocean, securing the future of our native oyster is vital to our blue planet’s health.

Read more on the plight of the UK’s native oyster

Operation Oyster is one of the most significant environmental projects ever launched by BSAC and will positively showcase that diving with a purpose can have long-term benefits.

We now have the perfect opportunity to ensure that the data gathered by our divers will feed into real-time research to ensure the protection and rehabilitation of our native oyster species.

– Andy Hunt, Operation Oyster

2024 update

2022 report

Native oyster shells 35 metres underwater and the discovery of rare spiny seahorse are just some of the unexpected finds highlighted in the Operation Oyster 2022 report - the first produced since the project launched in 2021.

The 2022 report also highlights the progress that has been made in establishing the extent of the native oyster’s decline.

Download the Operation Oyster 2022 report

Operation Oyster partners

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