Porlock oyster project receives £15k in extra funding

Oysters at Porlock Bay
Image caption The oysters harvested from Porlock Bay have achieved the Food Standard Agency's top hygiene rating

An oyster farming trial in Somerset, which aims to revive a village tradition that died out 100-years ago, has received £15,000 in extra funding.

The Exmoor National Park cash is on top of £17,000 given to the project in 2013.

Porlock village volunteers will now be able to test the feasibility of growing the oysters in deep water, to stop them being at risk of storm damage.

The parish council's Alan Wright said it has not been tried in the UK before.

"The [Shellfish Association of Great Britain] think we really ought to take steps to try and reduce the risk of the project from a bad storm coming up the Bristol Channel," he said.

"If it comes from a particular direction they think that we're vulnerable to stock and equipment loss."

Image copyright Roger Hall
Image caption As part of the project, poles were driven into the beach for oysters to grow along the attached ropes

Porlock Bay used to be home to oyster and mussel beds but the tradition died out in the 19th Century.

New beds were installed into the sea in 2014 as part of the project, and, in March this year, the oysters achieved the Food Standards Agency's top hygiene rating.

If the two-year trial is successful, the group intends to set up a commercial business.

Mr Wright added: "The key thing is we've got a category A on the water quality, which is only the second site in England and Wales that's got that.

"The only other one is down in Kent.

"It doesn't have a huge practical impact for us but what it says is that you won't get an oyster from better quality water than you'll get from Porlock."

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