Dr Philine zu Ermgassen

I am a postdoctoral research associate working with The Nature Conservancy (http://www.nature.org/) to quantify fish production from threatened coastal habitats. I completed my PhD at The University of Cambridge, examining the interactions between the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and other freshwater invasive species. Since 2010 I have been working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), first at the University of Cambridge and now at the University of Edinburgh. Together will colleagues at TNC I have focused on broadening our understanding of the ecosystem services derived from oyster habitat restoration as well as the historical ecology of the habitat in the US. More recently we have expanded this work to include ecosystem services derived from other threatened marine habitats globally through the Mapping Ocean Wealth programme .

Quantifying fish production from threatened coastal habitats

Structured coastal habitats such as seagrasses, saltmarshes, mangroves and oyster reefs serve a critical nursery function for many fish and invertebrate species. These same coastal habitats have suffered substantial declines in extent over the past centuries through a combination of threats including land use change, pollution, disease and impacts from destructive fishing practices. In partnership with The Nature Conservancy we are working to quantify just how much fish and invertebrate production these habitats provide. Through providing quantitative estimates of fish and invertebrate production, our aim is to provide coastal managers with the tools to communicate the impact of their restoration and conservation of habitats (http://oceanwealth.org/tools/oyster-calculator/), and to assist fisheries managers in incorporating habitat into their fisheries management plans.

Further information on the full complement of habitat based fisheries models can be found on the Mapping Ocean Wealth webpage: http://oceanwealth.org/ecosystem-services/fisheries/

Native oyster restoration in Europe

Oyster reefs are among the most threatened marine habitats globally, with over 85% loss over the past couple of centuries. The Nature Conservancy has been leading the way in restoring these valuable habitat around in U.S waters and increasingly around the world.

Here in the UK we have been supporting the restoration of the European native oyster, Ostrea edulisin the Essex Estuaries, as a member of the Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative (ENORI)

The native oyster has a long heritage in this region, and is one of the few remaining locations around the UK where the native oyster is still fished. The cultural heritage is kept alive by the active fishery, and the history remembered especially poignantly once a year through the dredging match, when fishers take to the water by sail in impressive oyster smacks.

Current efforts by ENORI involve the establishment of broodstock areas and improved bottom habitat for the settlement of native oysters.

ENORI Facebook page