The European native oyster, Ostrea edulis, in Wales, a historical account of a forgotten fishery

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

The history of the European native oyster has been documented for numerous countries within its natural range. However, the history of Ostrea edulis in Wales remains conspicuously absent from current UK and European peer-reviewed publications. It was therefore deemed necessary to address this and as a result in-depth research of archival data was conducted including local trade directories, decennial census returns, collections from the National Museum Wales, annual government fisheries reports and grey literature from local historical societies. These historical reviews resulted in the construction of a timeline which documents all the significant historical dates related to O. edulis in Wales from the early 1500 s to present day. Fisheries statistics for England and Wales were also analysed for the western regional oyster fisheries in an attempt to understand the contribution which the Welsh landings made to the region. The review revealed that the Welsh fishery was the primary contributor of regional landings from the early 1600 s with maximum landings reported 1894, with the oyster beds at Mumbles producing more oysters than any other port until the fishery closed in 1937. A commercial native oyster fishery no longer exists in Wales but there remains a small native oyster population in South Wales. It is hoped that the historical accounts of bountiful catches, overexploitation, and restoration of O. edulis over the centuries in Wales may offer current conservation practitioners an insight into failures and mistakes of the past which could benefit the future of the European flat oyster in Wales.


  • European flat oyster, Ostrea edulis, Wales, Historical fishery
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2023
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