IT IS a plan that could see the revival of a lost multi-million pound industry and with it the creation of hundreds of jobs.

The Solent was once the largest oyster fishery in Europe, with more than 400 boats catching up to 15 million of the tasty shellfish every year.

But stocks were decimated by a combination of dredging, disease and over-fishing, resulting in the collapse of the industry in 2013.

Now a marine conservation charity has revealed plans to deposit ten million oysters in the Solent in a bid to revive oyster harvesting and create almost 300 jobs in the fishing and catering industries.

The Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) says the £250,000 scheme could result in oysters being fished again by 2020.

BLUE chairman Charles Clover, said: “We’re in talks with a number of local and national corporations who are keen to play their part in helping restore the Solent back to its former glory.

“It’s an incredibly exciting project to be involved in and one which is generating lots of interest both in the UK and overseas.”

The Solent oyster industry, which began in Roman times, employed about 700 people as recently as 1978.

Now the fishery looks set to bounce back in a move that would enhance the environment as well as creating a large number of jobs.

Mr Clover added: “One of the project’s long-term aims is to ensure a sustainable supply of oysters for harvesting.

“This will help re-establish an important strand of the economy on the south coast. Fishermen would be able to harvest and sell their oysters to local restaurants, hotels and the wider food industry.

“And the ability of oysters to filter water will contribute to cleaner and clearer water for those using the Solent for recreational activities.”

Last year the Daily Echo revealed that Olympic sailing hero Sir Ben Ainslie and his America’s Cup racing team were backing plans to revive the industry.

An oyster breeding programme has been established at the Portsmouth base where Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) is preparing its assault on the prestigious yacht race.

Sir Ben lives in Lymington, one of the coastal towns set to benefit if the BLUE scheme is successful.

A Land Rover BAR spokesman said: “It might seem unusual for a sports team to be involved in a project like this but sustainability is an integral part of the team’s ethos.”

A presentation on the project will be given at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club in Bath Road, Lymington, on Tuesday at 7pm.

However, numbers are limited and anyone wishing to attend should e-mail