Tyne and Wear is a metropolitan county in the North East region of England around the mouths of the rivers Tyne and Wear. The region has a strong industrial past, half a century ago it held an international reputation for coal mining and shipbuilding, both of which have now mostly disappeared from the region. Although the estuaries remain industrial, efforts have been made to ‘clean up’ the worst affected areas in the last few decades. Today the biodiversity of the area is tremendously diverse, boasting a wide range of dramatic and rugged landscapes which contain a wealth of wildlife and geological features.
Oysters were a large part of local culture in the 1800s, with ‘oyster saloons’ in Tynemouth, oyster specialist fish markets in South Shields, and Oystershell Hall (a house rendered with oyster shells) situated on Oystershell Road in Newcastle city centre. However, this cultural link has long since disappeared, along with our once abundant native oyster populations in the region.
There is anecdotal evidence from local fishermen that a few isolated native oysters remain locally, but there is no sign of oyster reefs. We have an exciting opportunity to restore this special habitat, boosting the population of native oysters back to levels were self-sustaining reefs can thrive in North East England.