NATIVE oysters could be bred in Brightlingsea for the first time in more than 50 years as part of plans to open a new fishery in the town.

Gary Humm, owner of Brightlingsea Boat Maintenance, has already invested about £50,000 into the project, which will see both oyster and lobster hatcheries created in a building at his yard in the Shipyard Estate.

A part-time fisherman himself, Mr Humm hopes to bring back the glory days of Brightlingsea’s fishing industry and is working with Morgan Marine on the project.

Researchers from the University of Essex are also involved and a bid for another £50,000 is set to be put forward to the Maritime Fisheries Fund in the coming weeks.

Mr Humm, 45, hopes to secure further donations towards equipment to rebuild lobster stocks in the area, which have been severely depleted since 2016.


He said: “I run a small fishing boat in Brightlingsea as well as the boat yard.

“With everything going on with Covid, I decided I was going to put more effort into fishing.

“I made the decision to do what my heart was telling me to do and open a sustainable fishery.

“Initially the idea was to create a lobster hatchery, but whilst I was putting together the plans I was invited to Essex University for a meeting about what I was doing.

“Together we decided we would also like to create a native oyster hatchery.

“I have got together with Morgan Marine and they are planning to allow me to take on some of their land in a channel so we have a sensitive and quiet area to lay the oysters.”


Brightlingsea’s connection with oysters dates back centuries and it used to be a bustling fishing port.

About 100 fishing vessels were registered to the area back in 1914, but by the 1980s this had dwindled to less than a handful.

The last oysters are believed to have been bred in the town in 1963, but if Mr Humm has his way the famous delicacies could once again be back on the menu for fishermen in the area.

He said: “I have lived in Brightlingsea my whole life and my grandfather and his sons were oyster fishermen here, so I am getting back to the family business.

“Brightlingsea has such a rich history with fishing it would be great to see some of the boats return again.

“The full results won’t be seen for five or six years, but I’m doing this partly for future generations.

“My dream is to have five boats back fishing in Brightlingsea in my lifetime, which would be some achievement.

“Hopefully a few others might think about setting up their own fisheries in future.”


Mr Humm has already set up much of high-tech equipment needed to hatch oysters and has applied for permission from the Marine Management Organisation to bring lobsters into area.

If all goes well he hopes the hatcheries will be operational by February and has plans to develop the fishery into an educational facility in the future.

Mr Humm said: “I have installed lots of equipment already so I am partly ready to go.

“If the funding bid is successful, I hope we will be operational by February.

“I would like to set up a training centre for youngsters who might not be academic at school to get them out on the boats and learning about the oysters and lobsters.

“Once it is up and running I intend to make it so schools can come down and visit as well.”

He added: “I am keen on history, the town is an historic place, and I want to bring Brightlingsea’s fishing history back to life.”

Dr Thomas Cameron, lecturer in life sciences at the University of Essex, said: "Investing in restoration and recovery of shellfish stocks via regional hatcheries – whether that be lobsters or oysters – is to be welcomed alongside improvements to catch and fishing effort controls to support sustainable fisheries and income and employment for coastal communities.

"The School of Life Sciences at the University of Essex is looking forward to supporting this new initiative in Brightlingsea – we are very much excited about the enthusiasm Gary and his team has for this venture.

"We hope to help with research and development and assessment of the benefits of shellfish stock recovery from the animals the new hatchery produces."

Mr Humm is also collecting donations from those interested in the project and wants to hear from those with expertise.

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