This is the famous wild Native oyster of Cornwall, once prized by the Romans and Phoenicians who would sail over to get their Ostrea edulis fix. This well-known fishery is the most sustainable oyster fishery in England. It is the last oyster fishery in Europe using only sailing and rowing boats to harvest oysters. The oysters in the river Fal estuary have been harvested in this same highly sustainable way for more than 500 years.
When working, the boats drag two or four small dredges. These dredges have changed little over the last 500 years. They are about three feet wide, with an iron top and bottom bar. They are pulled across the riverbed and hauled by hand over the side of the boat. The contents are tipped out and the oysters sorted from the stones, weed and shells. Any oyster that is smaller than the statutory 2⅝ inches in diameter is returned to the riverbed to grow on. Fishing is limited from 9 am to 3 pm each weekday, and from 9 am to 1 pm on Saturdays, from October 1 to March 31.