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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Mussel farming to expand to Walney Channel

THE owners of a Barrow shellfish business hope to expand their empire by farming mussels in Walney Channel.

Kingfisher Seafoods is one of Barrow’s success stories – the company exports hundreds and thousands of shellfish every year, from their network of independent fishermen across the UK to supermarkets and wholesalers worldwide.

The company, run by Rob Benson and Dr Omar Namor, is based at Forge Close and the company directors are hoping to take advantage of their proximity to Walney Channel by farming mussels on the seabed.

If the company obtains the necessary statutory permissions from the owners of the land – which Kingfisher already leases, the move could generate hundreds of thousands of pounds.

And most importantly for independent fisheries consultant Dr Jim Andrews, who has been working closely with Kingfisher to develop the plans, the existing wildlife and surroundings will not be affected.

Dr Andrews, who has over 20 years’ experience in the industry, has also been instrumental in Kingfisher’s agreements with Muncaster Castle to farm shellfish at Ravenglass.

Mr Benson, whose family has a strong fishing background, said: “The plan would be to dredge sections of the seabed, then export the young mussels – seedlings if you will, onto the companies which will then grow, purify and sell the mussels.

“This is something that’s never been done on this scale before here, and the key thing is that there won’t be any adverse impact on the wildlife.”

Kingfisher has already been in talks with Natural England over the plans and received a visit from Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock.

Kingfisher Seafoods is one of two companies owned by Mr Benson and Dr Namor.

The business partners also run Wildcat Marine; a number of transfer vessels used by windfarm companies operating off the British coast.

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