Morecambe Bay open for limited cockle fishing
5th April 2016
Cockle pickers began operating in Morecambe Bay this week for the first time in more than eight years.
The North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NW IFCA) opened the beds yesterday during daylight hours only and when tides permit with other specific conditions attached.
Morecambe’s cockle beds are notorious because of the fast-moving tides, which claimed 23 victims in 2004 leading to the introduction of the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act and the formation of the GLA.
Collecting will be monitored closely by officers from NW IFCA and the GLA working with: South Lakeland District Council; Cumbria Police; Maritime and Coastguard Agency; Food Standards Agency; Marine Management Organisation and Natural England
Only collectors with a NWIFCA Byelaw 3 Permit will be allowed to collect cockles and mussels until 30 April. Collection must be carried out by hand using a rake called a craam (pictured).
This is a traditional Morecambe Bay tool - a three-pronged short handled fork designed to pick cockles one by one from the sand without causing damage to juveniles. It has been chosen specifically to harvest large cockles which are three or more years old, while minimising damage to juvenile specimens.
In Morecambe Bay it is unlikely that these older cockles would spawn again or survive beyond 2016, but they have a significant commercial value to fishermen.
Juveniles of less than 10mm in length must not be fished or damaged.
Fishing by the general public for small quantities without a permit for personal consumption is not allowed because the fishery falls within the Morecambe Bay ‘commercial area’.
Collecting times have been limited to reduce disturbance to breeding birds and access will be via Moor Lane, Flookburgh, only.
Transport to the fishery must be by quad bikes or tractors. No road vehicles will be permitted on the saltmarsh or shore to minimise damage to the sensitive habitats.