Raised £14,277 from 107 supporters

+£4,000 +Extra funding from Cornwall Council: Carbon Neutral Cornwall Fund
+£1,000 +Extra funding from Cornwall Council: Grow Nature Seed Fund

Perhaps unknown to us, for a long time we’ve been treating our environment a bit like a game of jenga and it’s only recently that we are comprehending the implications of removing it’s pieces. Our ecosystem is finely tuned, something which has evolved over millions of years to function with reciprocal cycles of established relationships which allow life to flourish.

As we unwittingly remove blocks, we compromise its structure and risk the collapse of this interconnected collective. The sometimes ordinary are in fact extraordinary, the cornerstones of our much needed foundations on which to keep the rest of the planet in balance. One such linchpin is the native oyster, or ‘Ester’ so called by the Cornish.

We’re going to take a deep dive into the recent crowdfunding campaign by The Fal Fishery Cooperative CIC, which has raised nearly £15,000 to hatch and release 1,000,000 Cornish Native Oysters into the Fal Estuary in 2020. Their aim being to restore an ancient population and habitat which has been significantly degraded over the last century.

The funds raised came from over 100 supporters and nearly a third of the £15,000 total, came via +Extra funding from Cornwall Council. This is a council which was among the first across the nation, to declare a climate emergency and quickly turn around an elaborate support structure to effect positive change in the county.

The Fal Fishery Cooperative received £1,000 from the ‘Grow Nature Seed Fund’, set up to offer support for projects in Cornwall which are encouraging nature and £4,000 from the ‘Carbon Neutral Fund’, for those helping to tackle climate change through reducing carbon production.

According to National Geographic, oysters are an indicator species. This describes an “organism that is very sensitive to environmental changes in its ecosystem. Indicator species are almost immediately affected by changes to the ecosystem and can give early warning that a habitat is suffering”.

Changes associated with external influences such as water pollution, air pollution, or climate change first appear in indicator species. The Fal Fishery Cooperative CIC in Cornwall is drawing attention to the plight of the native oyster, which “due to overfishing, pollution and disease has wiped out 85-95% of the world’s Native Oyster population in the past 2 decades alone”.

“Oysters play a vital role in filtering seawater and keeping marine habitats alive, just one oyster can filter over 200 litres almost 50 gallons every day, clean seawater also helps with photosynthesis, which in turn helps marine plant species!”

The Fal Oyster fisherman are a unique bunch, their method of craft is traditional and unchanged for hundreds of years. With strict regulation governing how and when they can fish, they should in the right conditions be able to preserve the natural ecology of the species. The oysters are caught under sail power only, with hand pulled dredges and those that fall below an agreed size are returned to the beds to fatten up.

Currently the majority of oysters caught in Cornwall are exported to France, there is however, an effort by the Fal Fishery Cooperative to encourage local restaurants to incorporate more of these local specialties into their menus. Conversely across the UK, French oysters are very popular, so to encourage the use of local products instead of those imported, the sustainability of this industry can be ensured and its carbon footprint reduced.

If you’ve got a great idea to ensure the preservation of Cornwall’s environment and to assist in its battle against climate change, start crowdfunding now!