Cockling to start?

Approximately 100 boats were expected in Lytham this afternoon after the Ribble cockle beds were re-opened.'A packed shore.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'1-8-2012
Approximately 100 boats were expected in Lytham this afternoon after the Ribble cockle beds were re-opened.'A packed shore. PIC BY ROB LOCK'1-8-2012

COCKLE picking on the Fylde coast could be set to re-start – but the views of fishermen in the borough are wanted first.

The North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) is asking fishermen to contact them about re-opening the beds.

Chief executive Dr Stephen Atkins said pickers in the area have control over when they want to re-start the process.

He said: “Following a survey by NWIFCA science officers on the Foulnaze bed on March 11, the authority has assessed that the stock of cockle remaining on the bed is sufficient to open the fishery for a limited period.

“The age of the cockle and field observations indicate that the cockle is beginning to perish.

“Discussions with cockle fishermen show there are differing views as to when to open the fishery and we would like your view on this. There are two management options available to us.

“Open the fishery as soon as possible – the beginning of May – to take advantage of the stock.

“Or to delay opening until June or July, giving surviving cockle the chance to spawn and improve condition.”

The beds first opened in 2011, with thousands of tons of cockles picked in two months.

However, the beds were soon closed after 26 coastguard rescues in the same period.

The beds re-opened to fishermen last year, but under much stricter guidelines, with boats and skippers requiring safety licences.

Fishermen are asked to email their views to the NWIFCA to science@nw-ifca.gov.uk, by tomorrow.