This August, we turn our attention to a much-loved shellfish, well-known for its remarkable flavour – the oyster. Perhaps less well known however, is the role it plays in marine ecosystems.
Overfishing and other environmental problems have caused numbers of oysters to plummet around the world. As a result, their crucial role as water filters and habitat providers has gradually been eroded and forgotten. One ambitious project set in Essex – the heart of UK oyster culture – is aiming to restore living oyster reefs to the seabed. Actor Simon Paisley-Day narrates the long-read this month.
In the second half of the episode, we speak with Dr Ruth Thurstan, senior lecturer in marine social-ecological systems at the University of Exeter. She talks us through how the industrialisation of fishing has impacted marine ecosystems.