Minister backs oyster campaign
By Roddy AshworthA GOVERNMENT minister has backed a campaign to achieve special status for a seafood delicacy.Oyster growers on Mersea Island have applied to Europe for a Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) for the world-famous Colchester Native.
By Roddy Ashworth
A GOVERNMENT minister has backed a campaign to achieve special status for a seafood delicacy.
Oyster growers on Mersea Island have applied to Europe for a Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) for the world-famous Colchester Native.
If approved, the name Colchester Native could only be given to an oyster if it was grown in creeks within the borough's boundaries.
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The East Anglian Daily Times has backed the growers' campaign to get the PGI, which would see the Colchester Native brand given the same protected status as Parma Ham, Champagne and Newcastle Brown Ale.
Colchester MP Bob Russell asked in a written parliamentary question whether Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett would agree to make representations to the European Union asking it to grant the PGI.
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Rural affairs minister Alun Michael has replied, saying if the growers' application fitted in with European rules, then officials would help lodge it in Brussels.
“Registering a food name under the EU Protected Food Name scheme is one way in which producers can add value to their produce,” he added.
“We are sympathetic to this proposal and the Government is keen to encourage more applications under the scheme.
“Officials are currently assessing the application against the scheme criteria. If it meets those criteria, officials will work with the applicant group to prepare the application for submission to the European Commission.”
North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin said he had signed an early day motion in Parliament, calling for Government support of the oyster growers' application for the PGI.
Mr Jenkin, in whose constituency the Colchester Native oyster beds lie, said: “I was delighted to add my name to this campaign - I always enjoy the oysters myself and recommend them to all my friends and colleagues.”