Slipper limpets are abundant shellfish that are caught by oyster fishermen in the Fal estuary. Slipperlimpets have a yellow disc of meat approx one inch across which is high in protein and can be eaten raw or lightly cooked. It is increasingly popular in France where it is commercially being harvested in the bay of Mont St Michel, Brittany. Commercial fisheries have not yet been established in Cornwall but small quantities are occasionally landed.
Slipper limpets are under utilized and abundant on the Fal oyster beds. They are a non-native species that arrived in the UK from in the late 1800's with imports of american oysters. it rapidly spread and is now considered an invasive species and a pest on oyster beds. They are thought to compete with oysters for space and food and produce abundant slimy pseudo faeces which may harm native oysters and their spat. This species is currently not used for human consumption but it is edible and has featured on the menu of Rick Steins Seafood Restaurant. It can easily be harvested by oyster fishermen in large quantities but currently there is insufficient demand so this resource is not being utilized.
Updated October 2017
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Slipper limpets are a snail like mollusc that lives attached to shells and rocks on the sea bed in shallow estuaries and bays. They have a domed shell, oval or kidney shaped which is up to 5cm long with an internal flat shelf. They often aggregate into chains or leaning stacks of up to 12 individual animals. Slipper limpet meat can be easily be removed from the shell by freezing and defrosting and then manual removal or mechanical removal through shaking (Dave Smethurst honours project Newquay Centre for Applied Zoology). The shells of slipper limpets are additionally a useable source of calcium carbonate, and have massive potential in soil conditioning on acid soils and use as an ingredient in concrete and other building materials.
There are estimated to be far more slipper limpets than oysters on the Fal oyster beds and they are also common in the Percuil and Helford estuaries.
There is no managment for this species at present. No commercial fishery exists yet.
Slipper limpets can easily be collected by oyster dregers but until there is a market for this species they are being discarded (alive) back to the oyster beds.
Slipper limpet management and utilization in the fal Andy Fitzgerald
La Crepidule - French website marketing Breton Slipper limpets
Live oysters are mainly served raw. All you need is a knife, a bottle of good wine, and a little lemon or tobasco and away you go!