In Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland stocks of Ostrea edulis collapsed in the 1890s and the species was rarely recorded again until 1998 when the wild stock was estimated to be 100,000. The stock increased to 1.2 million in 2003 but declined to 650,000 by 2005. In 2007 the stock exceeded 1 million. The initial recovery of wild stocks is attributed to the combined effects of spawning commercial O. edulis stocks of and larval retention due to local hydrography. The stock decline between 2003 and 2005 is attributed to unregulated harvesting. Significant differences in abundances between sites over this period may be explained by the exploitation of more-readily accessible sites initially and of less accessible sites later. Oysters at sites where there was minimal exploitation probably contributed to widespread recruitment in 2007. Sustainable management of recovering native oyster stocks in Strangford Lough and elsewhere and will be impossible without appropriate legislation and enforcement.