The Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Estuaries Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) was designated in 2013 to protect a number of habitats and species including native oysters (Ostrea edulis) and native oyster beds which are made up of aggregations of oysters. To support site management , the condition of features are assessed based on specific attributes. For native oyster beds, this includes the density of oysters per square metre. The current advice for minimum bed density was set using the OSPAR Commission definition of bed which requires a minimum density of 5 oysters per square metre. Given the local conditions prevalent in the Blackwater Estuary and the presence of the Bonamia parasite, this target is currently unachievable without significant and ongoing management intervention and as such the MCZ cannot achieve its aims.
This paper considers a potential solution to resolving this issue.