Offshore mussel farm gets lease

OFFSHORE Shellfish Ltd (OSL) has been granted a lease to develop an offshore mussel farm in Lyme Bay.

At its full development, the 15.4sq km farm will be the largest of its kind in Europe. The lease was given by the Crown Estate and work will begin on a pilot project in the near future. The pilot will involve an extensive monitoring programme, by Plymouth Marine Institute.

“We are delighted that four years of research and planning have resulted in a successful lease application,” said OSL director John Holmyard. “We view it as an exciting and positive addition to the local and the wider UK seafood industry.

The farm will be developed over a number of years. The mussels will be grown on ropes suspended above the seabed, which ensures they are free from grit.

By going offshore, the farm will be flushed with clean oceanic water rich in the plankton the mussels feed on naturally.

Initially, production will be aimed at the export market. “However, with low per capita consumption of mussels in the UK, our long term aim is to develop the market by encouraging greater domestic consumption,” said OSL director Nicki Holmyard.

It is anticipated the farm will bring employment opportunities at sea and onshore.