Ribble & Dee Estuary Cockle Beds Closed Over Safety Concerns

All Cockle beds at the Ribble and Dee Estuaries were closed on 7 November over fears to fishermen’s safety. The major cockle bed in the Ribble Estuary, on Foulnaze bank between Lytham and Southport, has been estimated to be worth £8million and has been attracting up to 300 cocklers a day.

The huge stock has led to cocklers arriving from all around the country, some of whom attempted to work illegally without the required NWIFCA permit. Access to the bed requires use of small boats many of which did not have safety equipment. Fishers with no experience of using small boats in the Ribble were going out in adverse weather at night resulting in more than 20 calls to the emergency services since the fishery opened on 1 September. A spot check showed 50 cocklers operating without permits and 15 boats deemed to be unsafe.

Amid fears of a serious tragedy, the North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) has passed an emergency by-law, which closed the Ribble bed from Monday 7 November, bringing forward the date from April. It is hoped that the fishery will be re-opened as soon as possible, when improved controls can be implemented.

To prevent relocation of cocklers and protect stocks, the Dee Estuary cockle bed on the Wirral has also been closed.

NW IFCA website: www.nw-ifca.gov.uk


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