5 reasons why oysters are more sustainable than you think

London Oyster Week debuts in the capital next week (21-29 April) but how much do you really know about our bivalve buddies?

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5 reasons why oysters are more sustainable than you think.

Oysters might not look that clever, but this incredible keystone species has a huge role to play in managing our oceans and coastlines. We dive into a few reasons why we all need more oysters in our life. (Fear not, the ones you find on your plate aren’t wild oysters, but sustainably farmed ones)

Oysters filter seawater to help the ocean stay in balance

Oysters are part of the bivalve family, they’re officially a salt-water bivalve mollusc. As such they’re brilliant at filtering dirty seawater, it’s thought an adult oyster can filter up to 50 litres of water a day. This keystone species play a vital role at keeping seawater balanced so other species can exist.

Their shells capture CO2

Oysters remarkably act as tiny carbon sinks as their shells capture it in the water and lock it into their shells. Too much CO2 in the oceans makes them too acidic, which makes it harder for shellfish to grow shells. Oysters however aren’t affected by rises in CO2 and use it as an ingredient in their shells. An Australian scientist is researching how effective widespread oyster farming would be in capturing huge amounts of CO2.

Image Katie Davidson, founder of London Oyster Week puts her shucking skills to use

They extract nitrogen from waterways

Oysters extract nitrogen from our waterways and incorporate it into their shells and tissue. While some nitrogen is needed in the water, there’s often too much, often caused by fertiliser run off, which can lower the oxygen levels in the water making it harder for marine species to thrive.

They form natural reefs when they grow in the wild

Oyster reefs protect coastlines from storm surge damage and erosion and the reefs provide a habitat for more than 200 other species to thrive. (Read about this American wine brand who put their profits into rebuilding historic oyster beds).

“Farmed oysters are one the most sustainable sources of protein on the planet”

Oysters are an ethical source of animal protein

While oyster reefs help our coastlines from being battered by the power of the waves, commercial farming of them in nature reserves is a pretty sustainable.

“Farmed oysters are one the most sustainable sources of protein on the planet as they do not affect wild stock populations,” says Katie Davidson, founder of London Oyster Week.

“In the UK we have one of the most ancient and sustainable native oyster fisheries in the world with laws in place in terms of harvesting times and methods.”

The London Oyster Week spans 25 locations including Bentley’s, Wright Brothers, Noble Rot, Northbank and the Hawksmoor group. Each has developed oyster dishes and will serve special oyster-matched drinks and cocktails.


We have two pairs of London Oyster Week passport tickets to win! Check our Facebook page and Twitter feed for more.