The practice of farming fish and shellfish is known as aquaculture. In Cornwall the main aquaculture species are currently mussels and oysters (shellfish). Currently the largest aquaculture operation is in St. Austell Bay, where two companies are successfully farming mussels using rope culture systems. This method of aquaculture has minimal impact on the environment and creates a natural refuge for other species (such as cod, bass and pollack) that feed around the hanging ropes of growing mussels. Oysters are farmed in the Helford and Camel Estuaries. The most common method used to farm oysters is bag culture from racks on the shore.
Finfish aquaculture in Cornwall is restricted to a few small-scale trout farming operations, as marine finfish aquaculture has yet to be developed in Cornwall. In-situ marine aquaculture takes up space in the environment and is geographically restricted by exposure and the power of Cornwall’s tides, waves and weather systems.
Farmed bass and gilthead bream are often offered for sale in supermarkets and restaurants. These are not farmed in Cornwall, and the majority are imported from Mediterranean countries where fish are grown in lagoons and sea pens. There are many documented cases where this has been carried out with great detriment to the natural environment. The taste and quality of farmed fish is generally far poorer than that of wild caught fish, and they have a far greater carbon footprint and environmental cost. Farmed bass and bream are frequently offered for sale at a size significantly below the minimum landing size for wild caught fish.
Find out more on our Aquaculture in Cornwall page.