Local Hero – Tilly

Our next Local Hero is Tilly! Tilly works on the Lochaline Native Oyster Project which was awarded a grant by the Highlands and Islands Environment Foundation. We were lucky enough to speak to her about her fascinating work, she also shared a video which you can view here.

Tell us some more about the Lochaline Native Oyster Project

The project plans to restore 20,000 native oysters over a three year period to the seabed around Lochaline, Argyll, in areas where they were once prevalent. Native oysters are “ecosystem-engineers”. They filter and clean the water, sequester carbon, and their complex reefs become spawning and nursery grounds for all sorts of marine species. The project will see the hatchery-spawned oysters being grown in cages under the Lochaline marina pontoons and subsequently released on pre-surveyed sites. The project is a partnership Between local charity CAOLAS (Community Association of Lochs and Sounds), the Scottish charity Seawilding, Lochaline harbour and the Lochaline primary school.

 

How has HIEF helped you?

HIEF has covered nearly 50% of the cost of the project enabling us to buy equipment, and pay for project set-up costs.

 

Why do you do what you do?

The project has a three-fold objective: firstly, to improve water quality in this busy Loch and to enhance bio-diversity; secondly, to train and enable communities to get involved in marine habitat restoration; and thirdly to empower communities to take ownership of their local marine body and to have a say in its management.

 

What has been the most rewarding aspect of the project to date?

The project is still in an early stage as we are still waiting for the necessary aquaculture licences to be approved, however, we hope, by early summer the first oysters will be in the water and that will be an exciting moment for everybody.

 

What more do you need for your project to be a success?

The project has the potential to grow and scale up to provide native oysters for restoration not just at Lochaline but also at neighbouring sites across the MPA in the sound of Mull. We hope to secure more funding in the future to enable this. Hopefully, in the future, as a result of our work, native oysters will become common again, and we might be able to create a sustainable community fishery and even branch out into other restoration projects like seagrass!

 

Is there a quote that you think encompasses the importance of your work?

“We face a biodiversity crisis, and we can’t expect the politicians to act quick enough – they haven’t in the past – so communities need to roll up their sleeves and show how it can be done!”

 

Please donate the Highlands and Islands Environment Foundation to support more grassroots champions like Tilly!

 

This series is part of our partnership with Naturisimo, a green beauty and wellness brand who are helping to champion the incredible individuals we work with.