A PROPOSAL to bring a ferry to Falmouth Docks to take shellfish and seafood back to Brittany in France has been welcomed as a 'game changer' by the sea food sector.

Last week Cornwall Council and the Brittany region signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding which could see Brittany Ferries bringing one of their vessels into Falmouth Docks to load up with shellfish and seafood.

During the meeting Loïg Chesnais-Girard, president of the regional council of Brittany, very firmly put the proposal that he wants to get a freight connection to Cornwall, and wants a ferry link to Cornwall via Brittany Ferries.

Falmouth Packet:

Martin Laity, left, with business partner Tom Knights, says the move could be a game changer

The move has been welcomed by local shellfish exporter Martin Laity whose company Sailor's Creek Shellfish operates from Flushing and supports over 50 local fishermen and women.

Mr Laity told the Packet: "It's good news all day long. Good news for Cornwall, good news for Brittany and it's good news for the seafood and fish trade.

"I'm really grateful that they are engaging with the industry. I have talked to friends in the seafood industry, who are big players, and they are like: 'Wow, this is a game changer'."

He said that while Looe and Newlyn had been suggested as possible places for the ferry, 'Looe is a creek with quay and Newlyn has no space.'

"A lot of the groundwork was done by Mike Deeks [former director and general manager of Falmouth Docks]," said Mr Martin. "He collected a lot of data on traffic, roads etc, so Falmouth is the obvious place."

Falmouth Packet:

It is hoped that Brittany Ferries will take up the challenge. Picture Brittany Ferries

Since the UK left the EU, it has been very difficult for oyster/scallop fishermen to get their catch onto the continent because of stricter rules for non-EU countries wanting to sell ‘live bivalves’ and bottlenecks and delays at ports caused by red tape. Delays are fatal to shellfish.


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Mr Martin said his attempts to work with DEFRA were falling on deaf ears and the last few months had been very frustrating. "It's something I've been calling for, for three months," he said.

Tim Dwelly, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Economy and Planning at Cornwall Council said the proposal would mean 'depuration', the cleaning of the shellfish to make them satisfactory for EU regulations, could take place here as well as all the paperwork.

"The overwhelming main market for Cornish crabs, spider crabs, lobsters, crayfish, winkles, oysters and scallops has always been on the other side of the channel," he said. "If Cornwall can step in where the Government has failed, we can perhaps protect this trade route and get the EU certification challenges fixed with the direct help of Brittany Region.

"That region has huge clout. Politically in France it is the equivalent of Wales/Scotland. Loig Chesnais Gerard, President of Brittany Region, could not have been clearer that he wants to work closely with us. His region’s interest in Cornwall and our shared culture and historical ties, not to mention our shellfish, is a breath of fresh air.

"If a new direct export freight route is set up, the licensing can be organised properly with the assistance of the Bretons who want to import Cornish produce. The catch will reach the market much quicker.

"If this scheme takes off, and I hope it will, the direct connection could see other products traded direct such as Cornish daffodils and the famous Roscoff onion strings. There is also a possibility that a passenger service could be added later once the freight connection is proven to work."

Falmouth Packet:

It is hoped the ferry would operate from Falmouth Docks

He added: "This a really good way to protect Cornish jobs. It's something that is being looked at by officers of the council very fast. It will of course need to look at what kind of boat. The bigger the boat the more likely it is to be from Falmouth on the other hand bulk of catch might be in Newlyn. Depending on the scale of the boat, no doubt the harbour teams and the harbour masters and all the rest will be looking at this urgently."

Brittany Ferries said at this stage there was no information or comment they could give.

Falmouth Harbour Commissioners have been contacted for a comment.