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18.01.06
Slow fact finding mission on river Fal

Fishermen working on the historic River Fal oyster fishery met representatives of the Slow Food movement this week as part of a fact finding mission to learn why this historic and traditional fishery needs to be preserved.

Fiona Richmond, executive director of the recently set up Slow Food UK, and Silvia Monasterolo, Slow Food's European praesidium and Terre Madre co-ordinator, spent a day gaining a first-hand insight into how the oysters are harvested by traditional oyster sailing boats.

After spending some time on the water fishing with Tim Vinnicombe, whose family have worked these oyster beds for five generations, they were taken up the river by oyster bailiff Paul Ferris to watch the other harvesting method, using haul-tow punts, at Turnaware Bar.

Clare Leverton, who runs the Port of Truro Oyster Fishery Management Group on behalf of the fishermen, said the visit would help to raise awareness of the issues affecting the fishery and the importance of this unique product. "A partnership with Slow Food will raise the international profile of the wonderful oysters caught using traditional sailing and rowing boats," she said. "The fishermen wasted no time in showing Fiona and Silvia some of the issues facing the fishery, such as the slipper limpet which is a pest affecting the oysters and needs to be eradicated."

Fishing was followed by a visit to oyster merchants Falmouth Bay Oysters, where the visitors saw the special care taken to prepare and present this top quality delicacy for customers across England and Europe.

Fiona Richmond said: "The Fal oyster is an exceptional product in terms of its taste, quality, and environmentally sound methods of production, history and traditional links with local culture. This is exactly the type of product the Slow Food movement would like to protect and support, and we look forward to working with all the stakeholders to learn more and take this forward."

The Slow Food delegates also later met representatives of Seafood Cornwall, Taste of the West, the Cornwall Slow Food convivium and South West Pesca at Kevin Viner's restaurant, Viners at Summercourt, to discuss links between Cornwall's traditional foods and the development of the Slow Food movement in Cornwall.

For further information please contact Clare Leverton on 01872 270333 or email: admin@swpesca.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in Fal Oysters and Seafood Cornwall through the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG). In addition the Programme has invested in Taste of the West through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

Slow Food is an international movement set up to protect and promote traditional foods and encourage the development of local food cultures. For more details see www.slowfood.com
The Slow Food visit to Cornwall took place on Tuesday January 17 and Wednesday January 18.
The Cornish Slow Food Convivium is led by Bob Lindo of Camel Valley vineyard. For more information see www.slowfoodcornwall.com
The traditional Fal oyster beds have been growing oysters since Roman times. It is the only oyster fishery in Britain where the oysters are harvested without any use of motive power, using either sailing boats or haul-tow punts. The fishery is regulated by the maritime department of Carrick District Council. Contact Clare Leverton, 01872 270333 or the harbourmaster, Andy Brigden, 01872 272130 for more details.
The Port of Truro oyster fishery management group is managed by SW Pesca on behalf of the oyster fishermen.
Pictures show Slow Food delegation members on board Tim Vinnicombe's boat, Boy Willie on the River Fal.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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