Big business and mussel farming

The prospectus for the proposed mussel farm off Sidmouth is well written and extremely professional so I cannot really blame Mr Crawford for being so completely taken in (Journal, March 25).

The prospectus for the proposed mussel farm off Sidmouth is well written and extremely professional so I cannot really blame Mr Crawford for being so completely taken in (Journal, March 25).

Equally, I suppose I have a further unfair advantage over him in that I actually do the job on a daily basis and so I see both sides of the argument instead of just the one.

I particularly liked the bit about Devon Wildlife and Natural England being in favour of it. On the original application, one of the sites fell within the sphere of influence of the Exe SAC (special area of conservation) and was referred to Natural England for comment.

Natural England, under its precautionary principle, asked for an environment impact assessment. The applicant then moved the site.


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So the fact is that neither the Devon Wildlife Trust nor Natural England has any statutory powers to deploy and so, being neither for nor against the project, are neutral.

The money for this nine square mile adventure in environmental meddling is Dutch. The Dutch, we are told ,are 'chronically short of mussel'. That is because they have overfished their waters to such an extent that they have had little or no mussel seed for eight years. Now they want to have a go at our pristine resources and all for the sake of more money.

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Big business and farming just do not mix. It has given us battery cages, BSE and mechanically reclaimed meat to name a few. Good food from a healthy environment does cost money, but cheap food costs all of us more in the long run.

The Exe and the Teign are at risk ecologically, 400 jobs are at risk nationally and a major source of local income is under threat.

This enormous project, with its 2,500x2m high buoys its 1,500 anchors and its 2,000,000 metres of rope (to say nothing of the 500 articulated lorries a year) is bad news for me and my 10 employees, terrible news for The Exe, a disaster for local fishermen and a catastrophe for sustainable shellfish farming in Britain.

The Exmouth Mussel Company was one of three finalists in last year's best food producer category at the food and farming awards. Fishing within a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, we are strictly monitored by Devon Sea Fisheries and Natural England and have a provable record of sustainability.

So, if anyone out there has any strong views on the subject, perhaps you might like to come down to the docks at Exmouth, where you can debate them in a seemly way.

Myles Blood Smyth,

of Exmouth (via email).

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