Cornwall: Study to investigate Fal River pollution –

Cornwall: Study to investigate Fal River pollution Published:  22 March, 2007

A POLLUTION study is to be carried out at the Fal River in Cornwall following requests from shellfish growers.

In the past 12 months the river has suffered pollution incidents and periods of declining water quality but there is no good information about why there are these problems.

The study has been prompted by requests from mussel growers and oyster fishermen to find out exactly what is affecting the normally good water quality in the river and the estuary. If the water quality does fall then this could have adverse effects on the fisheries and so this study is essential to determine the sources of problems.

The study will attempt to understand how the shellfisheries are affected by sources of pollution such as run off and materials from up and down stream. In general, the river has a high quality environment that is important for nature conservation and is therefore highly protected. The river is also important economically as it supports many oyster fishermen, mussel growers and shellfish processors.

The study will take place over the next few weeks. It is being carried out by Environmental Tracing Systems under contract to the Westcountry Rivers Trust with help from the Environment Agency, Falmouth & Truro Port Health Authority and the Truro Harbour Authority.

Steve Kestin is the manager of Cornish Mussels Ltd and is helping with the study at his mussel farm in King Harry Passage.

Commenting, he said: “I am delighted to see that a definitive study is going on to find out more about the river and hopefully to identify the sources of pollution which caused the seasonal downgrade in water quality classification from Grade B to C.

“Environmental Tracing Systems, who are doing this work, have been really professional and we are impressed to see them using cutting edge technology and innovation to find answers. I would hope that not just our business but others throughout the south west could benefit if the technology is used successfully in future.”

Deputy Port Health Officer for Falmouth & Truro Gary Cooper is helping with the water sampling daily. He said: “The measurement of water quality which affects the shellfisheries is a concern of Port Health and we’re very keen to see what the results show. This is a necessary study to target resources to improve water quality in the Fal Estuary.”

Funding for this work has come from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) through its Fisheries Challenge Fund, from Seafish Industry Authority and from Cornwall County Council.

Other partners in the study are Cornish Mussels Ltd, Westcountry Mussels Ltd, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, Port of Truro Oyster Fishery Management Group, Falmouth & Truro Port Health Authority and the Environment Agency. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.