Closed cockle beds will stay under surveillance

Cockle pickers are rescued from Ribble Estuary in Lytham by the coastguard and RNLI.
Cockle pickers are rescued from Ribble Estuary in Lytham by the coastguard and RNLI.
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MONITORING of the closed cockle beds in the Ribble estuary off Lytham will continue.

Fylde Council said it had been keeping watch on the area since the ban on cockling, due to safety concerns – just two months after they had been reopened after 20 years.

Fisheries officers seized an inflatable boat, two outboard motors, a quad bike and cockle-picking equipment from five suspected cocklers on the beds on the Southport side last Thursday. They were questioned by the Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority North West (IFCA) officers and had the goods seized. Authorities have warned anyone trying to breach the ban will face a similar fate along with a fine of up to £50,000.

A Fylde Council spokesman said: “We have nothing locally. We have had patrols. We can’t say nobody has broken the ban, but not that we are aware of, but we are monitoring every day. We will continue to monitor every day - we don’t want it reverting back.”

He added: “We are happy to see cocklers returning. A lot of people are making an honest living and there’s a local fishing community. But there has to be a balance between the needs of the local fishing community and residents. So we will enforce what IFCA has decided and hope it doesn’t last too long.”

Untrained and poorly-equipped cocklers had to be rescued 26 times and hundreds of vehicles descended onto Lytham seafront on a daily basis.

The closure runs to April 30, but is to be reviewed on December 6.