The largest marine restoration project in Europe is operating off the East coast aiming to bring back the native oyster to Essex.
Since its creation eight years ago the project, which is run by fishermen, the University of Essex and the Zoological Society of London, has created a 20 square kilometre marine conservation zone in the Blackwater Estuary just off the shores of Mersea Island.
It's known as a mother oyster sanctuary, where no-one can fish and baby native oysters are encouraged to grow.
- Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Hannah Pettifer
Since the 1850s, 20,000 kilometres of oyster beds have been lost.
A combination of over fishing, disease, pollution and habitat loss has all contributed to stocks of the UK native oyster falling by 95 per cent.
The team behind the project to restore the native oyster to Essex has been working within the marine conservation zone to make the best possible conditions for the native oyster to thrive once again in the wild.
A-frames, known as spat collectors, are being dropped into the heart of the zone.
They're widely used in France for baby oysters, or spats, to cling onto and grow.
Much has been done to prepare the area for the oysters.
Tonnes of shells have been laid on the estuary floor, known as laying the cultch, to create the hard surface oysters need to grow.
Richard Haward's Oysters have been cultivating oysters in Mersea since the 1700s.
By the end of the year they will have sold 1.5 million oysters.
They're part of the restoration project - alongside their knowledge, supplying the shells that have made the cultch beds.
An oyster takes five years before it's big enough to eat.
The restoration process will be equally as slow - the team will return in the next few months to see if their oyster sanctuary shows any signs of success.