Once overfished to extinction, much-missed Porlock Bay oysters are back on the menu

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Image: Porlock Bay oysters are back after 120 years

Mark Skipper / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: bitterjug

Oysters are being grown in Porlock Bay, Somerset after an absence of 120 years

Oysters have been grown at a West Country site for the first time in 120 years as part of community project in Porlock Bay, Somerset, to return the slippery shuckers to the area after the natural crop was ruined over a century ago.  


Highly sought-after in the late 1800s for their quality and taste, the entire natural crop of Porlock Bay oysters was decimated amid rumours of ships from the east coast arriving and emptying the beds in the channel. 


Now, the oysters are back. Grown and harvested by five local people, their social enterprise Porlock Bay Shellfish is now trying to raise £90,000 to set up the business properly and turn it into the first community-run sustainable shellfish farm in England and Wales.


Why are oyster-lovers rejoicing? Well, these bad boys are considered to be grown in such pure seawater they have been given grade A status by the Food Standards Agency (only the second in England and Wales) which means they can be eaten directly from the sea without being treated or washed.


Roger Hall, one member of Porlock Futures, told the Western Morning News: "So we are in situation now where the first oysters have grown well, they’ve been given the best classification you can get – now we’ve got to turn them into a viable business.” 


Locals have been offering people the chance to sample the first harvest for more than a century from mobile stalls on the beach. So seafood lovers, head down to Somerset and go naked. 

Want to know what the shucking fuss about oysters is? Here’s our beginner’s guide to oysters (plus how to shuck them like a pro).