For centuries Whitstable has been synonymous with the oyster fishing industry.
But a row over planning permission for trestles and other equipment placed in the sea from which Pacific oysters are harvested is threatening its future.
The Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company has been served with a Canterbury City Council notice requiring it remove its property.
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There has been a tenfold increase in trestles over the last eight years.
A Canterbury City Council spokesman said: “After taking extensive legal advice, we came to the view the trestles, bags and buoys used by the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company to grow oysters on their beach in Whitstable need planning permission.
“The company is aware of the position but has not made a planning application for the retention of the trestles.
“Therefore we had no option but to serve an enforcement notice on the company for what is an unlawful development that needs to be removed.
“A future application for retrospective planning permission to retain the trestles would be fully considered.”
The Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company has two months to comply, but director James Green has that he fears this will spell the end for oyster farming in Whitstable.
It has 200 staff and can trace its activities back to the 15th century.