November saw seasonal oyster fishing for two weeks in Clew Bay . The calm weather made the job easier on the fishermen.
The natural native flat oyster beds in Clew Bay are of both national and international importance. They are self-seeding and are one of only nine such natural oyster beds in the country. With the exception of a privately owned bed at Cullenmore Island, the Clew Bay Oyster Co-operative Society Ltd. has managed the native oyster beds in Clew Bay for the past 24 years. The Co-op. was granted an Oyster Fishery Order in 1979 and since then has managed the fishing season and ensured the continuity of stocks by instigating fishing rotation, fallowing of beds, stock enhancement & disease control programmes. The Co-operative has also collectively managed the local approval of aquaculture licence applications, where all applicants within the Oyster Fishery Order area consult with the Co-op. in the process of applying to the Department of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources.
Ireland’s native oyster – Ostrea Edulis
Intensive shellfish farming in Clew Bay began in the 1970’s .
The total area under aquaculture licence for shellfish is approx. 180 ha. The average production per annum from 2000 to 2004 was: native oysters, 7.8 tonnes, Pacific oysters, 429 tonnes and rope mussels, 257 tonnes. The natural flat oyster beds located primarily within the inner bay area cover a total area of c. 809 ha. There are 34 shellfish aquaculture licences within the Oyster Order. Of the 34 licences issued, 27 are for Pacific oyster with some also having clams on the licence, four for scallop of which one is also for abalone, two for rope mussels and one for bottom mussels.
Total area under aquaculture licence for shellfish is approx. 180 ha. The average production per annum from 2000 to 2004 was: native oysters, 7.8 tonnes, Pacific oysters, 429 tonnes and rope mussels, 257 tonnes.
Photo Ostrea Edulis Native Oysters and Oyster boats dredging oysters © Shay Fennelly/Aquaphoto