The oyster fishery around the Carrick Roads and the Truro River will see the return of the Falmouth Working Boats and punts on Friday, October 1, when they will start to harvest the first of the oysters for the 2010 season.

Falmouth Oyster Festival, later in the month celebrates the start of the oyster season and the traditional methods used for dredging the oysters. The fishermen rely on the tides, wind, their skill, and local knowledge of the fishing waters to dredge for oysters.

The oyster season runs from October to March with oystermen fishing in the Port of Truro Oyster Fishery prohibited from using engines and Governed by ancient laws that were put in place to protect the natural ecology of the riverbeds and oyster stocks. Instead, sail power and hand-pulled dredges must be used. This is the only oyster fishery in Europe, if not the world, where such traditional methods must be used. Some of the oldest oyster boats, known as Falmouth Working Boats, date back as far as 1860, with many of the boats built at boatyards around the Fal.

For over a century, Cornish families have derived their livelihood from oyster dredging in the Carrick Roads and surrounding rivers.

“It’s hard, hard work. We work for six months from October to March and I have known days in January when we have been dredging in the row boat and working in t-shirts and other times you come to get on the boat in the harbour and it’s bouncing four feet up and down. I have been doing this job for thirty years and our oysters used to go to French markets, now they go to hotels here and in London,” said Les Angel.

Native oysters from the Truro Oyster Fishery are prized throughout the UK, and are sold to customers across the South West, and throughout the country, with top London restaurants and hotels being supplied from local waters.

At Falmouth Oyster Festival there will be a dredging boat on view, a film about the history of the oyster fishery and interpretation information.