Between 1972 and 2006, the Solent supported the largest native oyster fishery in Europe. In 1978, 450 vessels were involved in oyster fishing and 15 million oysters were removed in that year alone. However, since this peak, the oyster population has declined significantly and in 2013 the fishery collapsed. In the UK native oyster reefs have declined by 95 per cent as a result of overfishing, pollution, disease, habitat loss and other pressures. Native oysters are classified as a priority species in the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan and restoration is a high priority at the national, European and global level. Globally, an estimated 85 per cent of oyster beds and reef habitats have been lost, making oyster beds one of the world’s most imperilled marine habitats. Oysters are ecosystem engineers and provide a range of benefits to the environment and people. They improve water quality - a single oyster can filter 200 litres of water every day - provide habitat to other fish and marine life, and act as a natural defence to coastal erosion. Their value as a food source can be dated back to Roman times in the UK. Unfortunately, the loss of the native oyster has meant that much of these benefits have been lost in the Solent. The Solent Oyster Restoration Project is restoring native oysters and the benefits they bring through four key interventions: • Oyster nurseries: a network of oyster nurseries – adult oysters placed in high densities – have been suspended below the surface of the water from pontoons working in partnership with marinas. • Oyster reefs: using shell and gravel (cultch) three hectares of oyster reef is being created in areas protected from fishing and restored with oysters to re-establish wild populations. • Restoration hatchery: in collaboration with the University of Portsmouth, local adult oysters are creating the next generation of oysters. These will then be deployed on to the newly formed reefs, significantly scaling up our restoration work. • Community outreach: through volunteer programmes and school visits, the project is raising awareness of the need for oyster restoration and its importance.