Don’t let it die is the battle cry of campaign to save the Morston mussel

It's time to conserve the Morston mussel. Picture: Antony Kelly

It's time to conserve the Morston mussel. Picture: Antony Kelly - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

It might not seem the most glamourous part of Norfolk's rich seafood harvest. But the Morston mussel has put bread on the table for generations of fishing families on the county's north coast - and given eateries around Blakeney's tiny harbour a signature dish just yards from their kitchens.

Now the much-loved mollusc is a thing of the past, because silt and sand choke its tiny seed before it can grow into mature shellfish.

Fishermen have hung up their riddles and their oilskins for now, because changes to the delicate seabed around the shallow harbour – ironically fed by two of the county's finest chalk streams - have left them unable to nurture fresh stocks.

But they would happily put to sea again tomorrow if a way could be found to bring back the mussel. So the EDP is launching a campaign to do just that.

We say the dish should be added to Britain's list of protected food names, to highlight its importance and unique qualities – while the authorities launch an investigation into how to reverse its decline.

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Fishermen agree. They believe the harbour - which produced up to 50 tonnes of mussels a year – could earn a living for future generations and help keeep the area on the map.

Mark Randell, secretary of the Blakeney Harbour Mussel Society, said: 'We would like to continue. It was a grade one, highly-regarded product which commanded a premium and brought people to the area.

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'We would like to reinstate it because it was good for north Norfolk but we need sea bed conditions favourable to its production.

'We would like a proper survey, there are plenty of people saying they'd chip in for a proper investigation.'

Opinions differ over what has caused coarse sand to enter the harbour creeks and wipe out the mussels. In recent years there has been an explosion in the building of off-shore wind turbines and expansive dredging to create the new harbour for service vessels along the coast at Wells.

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