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Glenmorangie Distillery recreates extinct native oyster reefs in Scotland in an environmental first

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Glenmorangie returns 20,000 oysters to the sea near its home

A total of 20,000 oysters are to be introduced into the sea near Glenmorangie’s Highland home, as part of the Single Malt whisky’s ground-breaking project to restore oyster reefs fished to extinction a century ago. In pursuit of its vision to enhance the marine biodiversity of the Dornoch Firth, Glenmorangie and its partners last year placed 300 oysters in its protected waters, to confirm the species could survive. Now, for the second phase of the project, they are to recreate entire reefs – the very first time this has been attempted anywhere in Europe.

Glenmorangie is dedicated to protecting and improving the beautiful surroundings which have been its home for 175 years. With this commitment in mind, it forged the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP), with Heriot-Watt University and the Marine Conservation Society in 2014, to bring oysters back to the Firth. Established reefs in the Firth will increase biodiversity and act in tandem with Glenmorangie’s anaerobic digestion plant, to purify the surrounding seas of their distillation.

Researchers introduced the first 300 native European oysters in 2017. These oysters thrived, paving the way for a feat never before attempted in Europe – recreating natural reefs. From this month, 20,000 oysters will be carefully placed on the first of these reefs, specially created from waste shell, to mimic their natural habitat. The native oysters, all grown in the UK, painstakingly cleaned and checked for disease and unwanted hitchhikers, will be regularly monitored.

Based on a successful outcome of this 20,000 oyster trial numbers will be increased to 200,000 over three years. Over five years, the population will be built up to four million, spread over 40 hectares restoring the self-sustaining oyster reefs that existed in the Firth, until they were fished out in the 1800s. An Independent Research Advisory Panel (IRAP) of leading European Marine scientists has also been created. Led by Professor John Baxter the panel will have oversight of the DEEP project.

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.”

Thomas Moradpour, President and CEO of The Glenmorangie Company, said: “DEEP is a vital part of our vision for a fully sustainable business. Supported by Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and our partners, we’ll do all we can to champion this innovative project, soon to be showcased at our Open Weekend at The Glenmorangie Distillery.’

For more information about the Marine Conservation Society visit their website by clicking here.

For more information about Glenmorangie visit their website by clicking here.

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The Rescue – available on Disney+ tomorrow (Watch Trailer)

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If you missed the recent cinema debut of The Rescue film, you can watch it on streaming channel Disney+ from tomorrow December 3rd.

From Academy Award®-winning filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo), The Rescue is the edge-of-your-seat account of the rescue of 12 Thai school boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave system in 2018.

The Rescue chronicles the dramatic rescue of the boys and their coach, trapped deep inside a flooded cave. Academy Award®-winning directors and producers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin reveal the perilous world of cave diving, the bravery of the rescuers, and the dedication of an entire community that made great sacrifices to save these young boys. An outing to explore a nearby system of caves after soccer practice transformed into a two-week saga of survival and a story that would capture the world’s attention. With exclusive access and never-before-seen footage from the rescue, the film tells the story of the imagination, determination and unprecedented teamwork displayed during this heroic edge-of-your-seat mission with life-or-death stakes.

Check back for our review of The Rescue soon!

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Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Guardian investigation finds endangered sharks for sale in Taiwan

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A field investigation into Taiwan’s shark fin industry was conducted by Shark Guardian between December 2020 and March 2021. The investigation obtained documentary evidence of fins from endangered shark species being openly offered for sale by over half of all shark fin traders surveyed in Taiwan’s southern fishing port of Kaohsiung.

Of the 13 shark fin processing and trading companies visited, more than half were found to be trading CITES- listed fins, and seven had shark fins from CITES Appendix II-listed species as part of their product range. One company saidthere was no difference in selling protected or unprotected species. Protected sharks’ products usually create a problem for international shipping only.”

The new report details how seven out of thirteen traders surveyed in Taiwan were found to be selling shark fins from silky sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, mako sharks, thresher sharks and great white sharks in broad daylight – in contravention of Taiwanese and international law.

Over a three-month period, Shark Guardian investigators witnessed multiple shipments of shark fins from endangered species being unloaded at Donggang fish market which is in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung.

Alex Hofford, Marine Wildlife Campaigner with Shark Guardian, said “To save sharks and the marine environment, Taiwanese authorities should implement an immediate crackdown on its cruel and unsustainable shark fin trade, and should tighten up local laws to ban the domestic sale of shark fin as well as better enforce its international obligations under CITES. It is also high time that the Taiwanese government should rein in its out-of-control distant water tuna fishing fleet, who are a major supplier shark fin to Chinese markets. Whilst Taiwan is a beacon of democratic and progressive values in Asia, it is allowing its unsustainable and often crime-ridden fisheries sector to rape and pillage our ocean with impunity. This must stop. Taiwan needs to show leadership in environmental protection and must quickly clean up its act as regards its sleazy shark fisheries and trade sectors.”

During our investigation, Shark Guardian also found evidence of Taiwan-based online retailers selling fins of endangered species of shark in contravention of local and international law.

According to WWF, a third of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, yet fishing and trading in unsustainable shark fin remains a highly profitable, but environmentally destructive, enterprise for Taiwanese companies operating out of Kaohsiung.

Brendon Sing, Co-Director of Shark Guardian said “Clearly more must be done to protect sharks globally. There are over 500 known shark species with only a handful of them listed under CITES. Even then, CITES listed sharks are still traded illegally where monitoring and enforcement lack any power and expose loopholes in the system. As long as this continues, there is no real protection for any shark species regardless of CITES listing or not. Taiwan must be responsible and take positive action in response to this report.”

Shark Guardian believes that excessively large profit margins are the main reason why Taiwan has never acted to rein in its shark fisheries and trade.

Shark Guardian hopes that Taiwan can apply its progressive values towards preserving the marine environment by imposing a comprehensive ban on the physical and online selling all species of shark fin in Taiwan. Such a ban would go above and beyond what is required under international law, and Taiwan’s domestic laws can be changed with public support.

For more information about Shark Guardian visit their website by clicking here.

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