The Oystermen

Solent Lady, Last of the Oystermen

A story we un-earthed when asked to research and shoot, some images for display panels on the Hot Walls Old Portsmouth, to illustrate our local fishing industry.

Portsmouth’s fishing industry’s rich heritage
There is written evidence of Romans fishing and farming oysters and clams in our waters in exactly the same way as today. This means the beds have survived and flourished for millennia. Local fishermen now claim that new management, IFCA, has succeeded in destroying these beds in only four years.

For those four years, Oystermen have been banned from local beds – to preserve the beds and stop disturbing the bird life. A study of the sea bed in October 2016 showed the clam bed was now devoid of all life and contained at least 4ft of dead shells, mis-formed baby clams and no sign of indigenous life. The overriding smell of petrol and oil present in the silt was overpowering, and quite upsetting.

These beds traditionally contained enough, clams, cockles, whelks and oysters to support a fully-functioning local fishing fleet that provided jobs and marine maintenance to a thriving biodiversity of shellfish. This has now disappeared under the new management of IFCA, under the protection of DEFRA.

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Dan Bernard Flickr

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