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Conwy mussels: Plan to allow one company to control waters

Bag of Conwy mussels
Image caption On sale – but for how long will Conwy mussels be on the menu?

In a bid to preserve the Conwy mussel industry, a plan to give one company control of fishing has been proposed.

The status of the mussels – caught between September and April – is protected in the same way as champagne and prosciutto.

Because of low yields and new regulations, only two operators were on the water in 2017-18.

Conwy council will discuss supporting the Conwy Mussel Company to control the waters and who fishes them.

A report before councillors on Wednesday warns there is a threat of the industry “coming to an end” otherwise.

The mussels, which are hand-raked in small wooden boats, are considered larger and more succulent than other types, while the environment off the Conwy coast, where they grow, is seen as unique.

New commercial rules have been brought in by the Welsh Government, with operators having to pay £5,000 for a licence and modify their vessels.

This led to only two operators being present on the water in 2017-18.

“Given the marginal returns presently generated by mussel fishing, the new policy will most likely act as a bar to any new fishers entering the industry and to existing fishers without licences remaining in the industry,” the report reads.

Councillors will be recommended to approve supporting the Conwy Mussel Company in managing fishing in the area at a meeting on Wednesday.

Image copyright Getty Images

The purification plant, where the mussels are kept for 42 hours to make them clean and fit to eat, is currently leased by the firm from the council.

Another option in the report is that the Welsh Government continues running the waters as it has done since 2009.

Lying between Gwynedd and Anglesey, the area is largest for mussel farming in the UK.

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