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Glenmorangie to reintroduce oysters to Dornoch

Scotch whisky distillery Glenmorangie is to reintroduce 20,000 oysters to the Dornoch Firth for the first time in a century in what is the first attempt of its kind in Europe.

The firth used to be home to thriving oyster beds until they were fished to extinction over one hundred years ago.

Last year the distillery and its environmental partners reintroduced some 300 oysters in protected to ensure they could survive.

Building on the success of this, from this month a total of 20,000 oysters, reared in the UK, will be laid down in brand new reefs.

These numbers will be hopefully be grown to 200,000 over the next three years and then to four million over five years, with the oyster beds covering 40 hectares in total.

The project, known as the Dormoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP), was brought about by Glenmorangie, Heriot-Watt University and the Marine Conservation Society back in 2014.

Glenmorangie has been working to clean the waste water it sends out into the firth, removing the harmful compounds and gases which can be turned into fertiliser and renewable gas.

The only particles left in the water that is deposited in the firth contains various solids that remain are organic compounds – largely made up of barley.

Not only has this process allowed the firth to return to a state that enables the reintroduction of oysters but the barley-based residue will provide some food for the oysters.

Hamish Torrie, Glenmorangie’s CSR Director, said: ‘We are very excited to move DEEP to its next stage and have been hugely encouraged by the enthusiastic support that our meticulous, research-led approach has received from a wide range of Scottish Government agencies and native oyster growers – it is a truly collaborative effort. We are all very proud that in our 175th year the Distillery has such a pioneering environmental project right on its doorstep.’

Dr Bill Sanderson, Associate Professor of Marine Biodiversity at Heriot-Watt, said: “This is the first time anyone has tried to recreate a natural European oyster habitat in a protected area. Working closely with Glenmorangie, we hope to create an outstanding environment for marine life in the Firth – and act as a driving force behind other oyster regeneration work across Europe.”

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