Hove too in a political storm... October 07 2018
Hove too in a political storm...
Working one of the last traditional sailing fishing vessels, and gathering wild ‘Cornish Native Fal Oysters’, on one of the last natural native oyster fisheries, is far from plain sailing... While bylaws and regulations dating back centuries are helping to protect the traditions, the fishery is selling itself short and the oysters themselves are not providing the economic income that they once did.
Despite having a very unique history and a very unique Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, the ‘Fal Oyster’ is not just a native oyster ‘produced’ from the Fal Oyster Fishery, it also has to be ‘processed and packaged’ on the fishery before it gains the prestigious PDO title.
Producers must prove full traceability from day of gathering, through grading and processing to packaging and delivery, companies are inspected by: Trading Standards, Port Health Authority and DEFRA/CEFAS, all authority’s adopt the CIFCA Fal Fishery Regulations 2016 and to date only one company has been approved by all - Fal Oyster Ltd. t/a Cornish Native Oysters, based at Mylor Yacht Harbour since 2009
Economically the ‘PDO Fal Oyster’ is operating at a tiny fraction of what it could be providing for a country about to leave the EU, but can that all be about to change... an average of 50 tonnes of native oysters are landed from the Fal Oyster Fishery per season (October-March), a peak of 89t a few years ago and a historical record of 300t a century or so ago... in today’s money 50t is worth about £165,000-£200,000 to all the vessels that work the winter weather.
Less than 5% of the yield is sold under the PDO Fal Oyster name but the trade price does yield a much higher return per kilo, £10-12 pkg compared to £3.30-£4 wholesale price. As a retailer of the unique oyster value can be £25-£55 pkg depending on whether you are in Falmouth or Mayfair! You can visit the 10th Pop Up Fal Oyster Wink at The Front Falmouth between 11-14th October and feast yourselves on genuine hand sail and oar gathered, hand processed and hand packed Fal Oysters.
One London retailer commented: “I’m sorry, the Fal Oysters just don’t sell as well as the French Oysters!”.... I bet you are thinking ‘do they sell UK Oysters in Paris?’ the answer is probably yes because at least 50t of native oysters were exported from the Fal Fishery to France last winter. If there are 20 small 50g oysters in a kilo, that’s 1,000,000 oysters sold for as little 17p each!
Some of the yield from the Fal Fishery is sold to other fisheries in the UK, the oysters are processed and or stored before being rebranded. A Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) would be given if the area was well known for the product, but the product itself not ‘produced’ in the area... a well known UK Oyster Company has flourished on the PGI oyster status, yet the exploitation of our produce is destroying our fishery while others are trying to restore native oysters everywhere.
A report about to be published identifies by far the most lucrative return per kg is selling last years juvenile catch (that is stored on lays for a year or two before harvesting in September) at the annual Falmouth Oyster Festival, some 20,000 oysters are sold to the 40,000 visitors, but it’s not open to all oystermen of the Fal!
The other big problem is the misrepresentation by some of the big fish merchants in the UK, if a chef is told they are buying Fal Oysters or Cornish Native Oysters that’s what goes on the menu and ultimately that’s what the customer believes they are eating... in fact Cornish Native Oysters is the trading name for the approved depuration premises and Fal Oyster has a Protected Food Name, both names are being used to sell oysters that have not been processed at Mylor and therefore not benefiting the local economy.
This in turn means the old boats don’t get restored, the recruitment of crew doesn’t happen and the company spends all its time campaigning for a better fishery for all.
DEFRA have recently published two consultation documents: Consultation on establishing UK Geographical Indications (GI) schemes after exit (from the EU), which at least gives hope to a UK scheme, and Consultation on improved enforcement of the Protected Food Name Scheme, which gives hope to preventing the exploitation of the name and more importantly the fishery itself.
GIs are a form of intellectual property protection that identifies a product as originating in a country, region or locality where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product is attributable to the place where it is produced.
A total of 862 products from the UK are registered as GIs under the EU schemes: 76 agricultural and food products, five wines and five spirit drinks. The UK’s GIs represent over £5 billion in UK export value each year (25% of all UK food and drink exports by value) and play an important role in rural economies.
HMRC EIS Shares in Fal Oyster Ltd. available now December 02 2014
Having been trading as Fal Oyster Ltd for two years we can now offer Enterprise Investment Scheme Tax Relief of up to 30% when you invest in us...
More information on home page... Or email email@example.com
Ostraca February 03 2014
'Ostraca' is from the Greek word 'ostracon' that literally means 'oyster shell', 'ostraca' are pieces of pottery with scratched in entries to a vote.
'Tuelel Pren' in Cornish has the same meaning... 'to throw wood'...
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Approved Premises November 27 2013
On the 19th November EHO officer visited the depuration centre at Mylor Harbour and has again 'Approved' the premesis... We are working with Matt & Jade from Cornish Mussel Shack to expand our capacity... DEFRA have 'Authorised' the Aquaculture Production Business and finally joined the Shellfish Association of Great Britain...
Growth Accelerator September 12 2013We are feeling very privaliged to be part of the Growth Accelerator Scheme and we are getting sound advice from http://southwestfd.co.uk/ Thanks for today Jeremy
Fal Oyster Ltd. September 16 2012
Well well, a busy few months and thank you all so much for the faith, your investments have secured the 2012-13 season.
We have raised 30% of the Share Capital we were looking for
We have taken on three work experience crew
two of which will be starting a 12 month apprenticeship in October
the third will be planning the rebuild of Boy Phil
We have secured land and workshops
We have secured the use of another working boat 'Ivy'
landings from two boats even though we are still rebuilding the second
We have secured a bulk purification and distribution deal with a South East Oyster Merchant
We incorporated Fal Oyster Ltd. on the 3rd September 2012
We have secured a second skipper for the vessel 'Ivy'
who is qualified to teach the apprentices RYA sailing certificates
We have set up a business bank account, assigned an agent (accountant) and Sage accounts software
We have a new online shop to replace the old eCommerce package
We have updated and tested the purification centre at Mylor
We have almost completed a new deck on Alf Smythers and Moyana is almost ready to go to work too
and its only two weeks to go before the first day on the fishery...
Cornish Native Oysters Business Plan 2 September 16 2012
Cornish Native Oysters, named ‘Best Fish & Seafood Producer’ in Telegraph’s Good Produce Guide 2012 by Rose Prince
High value product, Local Delivery Partner, SE Distribution Centre, National Home Delivery
Supplier to Michelin Chef’s & Restaurants
Pre season payments (insurance, licenses, DEFRA, rent etc.) before any revenue
6 months season, October until March
Low value for fishermen who need to be paid weekly = High turnover of crew
Michelin Chef’s & Restaurants wanting to pay 90 days after invoice
Working more than 40 days of approx. 130 days in season
Operating 4 dredges per boat
Saving another old oyster boat, Working 2 boats, Creating 4 Jobs
Supplying larger quantities to more restaurants
Maintaining a larger part of the fragile fishery
EU Fishing Vessel Licensing scuppering the ‘<10m Engineless Exemption’
Introduction of non native species onto the wild native oyster fishery damaging the beds (see Duchy Oyster Farm)
As a sole trader…
I am maintaining the boats, teaching crew, gathering the wild oysters, grading them each day, cleaning them in my purification centre, pro active sales & marketing, packing and dispatching orders, trade shows, daily admin, book keeping and petitioning against the threats to the fishery.
Like many small businesses…
I desperately need an employee to take over ‘grading them each day, cleaning them in my purification centre, pro active sales & marketing, packing and dispatching orders’ as every day at sea I have to spend a day in the purification centre and lose another day at sea. We have 6-month season so effectively I am breaking even in 3 months…In the 2009 Business Plan #1 (below) I wanted to increase the value from 18p to £1, in year three the average price I sold oysters for was £1.28.
assist with cash flow, prices will increase but will then be discounted to base
price if paid within certain terms (i.e.20% off if paid within 30 days)
The season is October 1st to March 31st the hours for fishing are 9-3 Monday – Friday 9-1 Saturday. The fishery suffers from seaweed growth in warmer temperatures so it’s harder to work the heavier dredges at the beginning and end of the season. The yield tends to drop off at the end of the season and every day is weather dependent, some days it is ‘wind over tide’ so difficult to keep the boat drifting favourably. It therefore makes sense to have two boats working on the good days and also improve the number of days out.
Inception (next steps):
Raise capital to cover: Outstanding Finance, Relocation, Input Costs, Capital Assets, Materials and Labour
Rebuild a second boat 'Boy Phil' by selling shares in both her and 'Alf Smythers'
Recruit a second skipper, two crew and someone to operate the purification centre
Incorporate Fal Oyster Ltd. for Share Capital and Allotment
Initiate Oysters From The Fal .org for recruitment, training, apprenticeships and not for profit events
Cornish Native Oysters Business Plan 1 September 16 2012
In 2009 I wrote:
"By supporting this micro-business it will enable the value of Truro Oysters to significantly increase for the last of the traditional oystermen, whilst encouraging new generations to learn the skills. In return Truro Oysters will establish a self-sufficient micro-business model for other businesses, establish a market that understands the very distinctive oysters and introduce a traceability scheme to seal in the provenance of every oyster.
In 2012 the Port of Truro Oyster & Mussel Fishery will be assessing the viability of the fisheries own license and with only a dozen or so boats dredging on a daily basis, it is imperative that the very unique and sustainable source of food be recognized and its future secured for generations.
A benefit to all…
The current value for the oystermen is £2.30 per kilo (18p ea), to employ three staff (two onboard and one ashore) for six months is £25,000 that’s 21 x 20kg bags a week every week just for employment alone. A very good week only brings in 15 bags.
20kg bags at a merchant’s value of £6.25 per kilo (50p ea) means just 8 bags need to be landed and sold every week to cover staffing costs
At a value of £9.38 per kilo (75p ea) its just 5 bags a week, which is half the average predicted catch for 2009/2010 season
Within a year increase the oysterman’s value almost 300% from 18p each to 52p (equivalent to today’s merchant value) by marketing the unique history and sealing in the provenance of each character and boat. The following year an increase of just 50% then 33% the year after, so a new value of around a £1, which would encourage new boats and crews, managing the beds would increase growth and if there were 50 boats again the fishery would be saved and each boat would still only need to land 10 bags each for it to be equally viable."
In 2011-12 season the average price you paid for these exceptional oysters was £1.23 each, hard work and provenance is the key and thank you so much, now we can start the Business Plan 2...