UK offshore mussel farm granted lease

Offshore Shellfish Ltd. (OSL) on Thursday announced that it has been granted a lease by the Crown Estate to develop a offshore rope-grown mussel farm in Lyme Bay, Devon, on Great Britain’s southern coast.

Once completed, the 15.4-square-kilometer farm will be the largest of its kind in Europe, according to OSL directors John and Nicki Holmyard. (Editor’s note: Nicki Holmyard is a SeafoodSource contributing editor.)

The mussels will be grown on ropes suspended above the seabed, ensuring that they are free of grit, they said. Situated offshore, the farm will be well flushed with plankton-rich ocean water, so the mussels will require no artificial feeds, fertilizers or medicines.

The farm will be developed over a number of years and production will initially be aimed at the export market until greater domestic consumption is encouraged, they explained.

“This new business is a unique opportunity to produce mussels away from the coast, which will help to diversify and develop and the full potential of large-scale seafood production in the UK,” said John Holmyard. “The creation of this new industry will bring with it the opportunity for long-term sustainable employment at sea and onshore and offer local people an additional career choice. In addition to direct employment, it will create job opportunities within the ancillary support industries such as transport, engineering and supplies.”

During the four-year research and planning stage, OSL consulted with industry and regulators to ensure the farm would be a environmentally friendly, they added. The pilot project, which work will begin on in “the near future,” includes an extensive monitoring program that will be run by Plymouth Marine Institute.

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