Experts review cockling ban

Cocklers in the estuary at Lytham
Cocklers in the estuary at Lytham
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THE closure of the Ribble estuary cockle beds will be reviewed by fisheries bosses early next week.

All cockle beds in the estuary were closed to fishing on November 7 due to safety concerns just two months after they had been reopened after 20 years.

The closure will be reviewed by the North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) at its meeting in Morecambe Town Hall on Tuesday.

Lytham fisherman, Paul Sumner, who will attend, said: “From what I can gather I don’t think we are allowed to speak. We might be able to ask questions at the end.

“I’m hoping they will let us back on, as professional men or just small scale. My gut feeling is they will probably leave it until the end of March or April when there’s a bit more daylight.

“At the moment, with the strong winds we won’t be out there anyway. I’ve been catching the last of the sea bass, there’s still a bit of fish around. I was up there last week but it has been very mild. I’m just hoping for the wind to drop and have another go. But he forecast for this week is not very good at all, so I don‘t know. I’m just doing a bit of maintenance on the boat.

“It would be nice to get two or three more weeks in just before Christmas. Between Christmas and New Year there will be nothing happening. It depends on the weather, maybe we will get a few more weeks in.” Paul said his main catch in winter were shrimps and cockles, with fish, especially sea bass, in the summer months.

“January and February, it will not be fit to be out there,” he said. I normally live off what I have caught in summer in January and February.

“It’s annoying when you know there are cockles out there. It’s very frustrating.”

NWIFCA used powers under Section 157 of The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 to close the beds to all people fishing for cockles, whether for pleasure or profit, whatever the method.

Martin Jaggs, coxwain of the Lytham St Annes Lifeboat, said, the RNLI would go about its job regardless: “The only difference it makes for us, if they do reopen them we are aware we could be a lot busier. We don’t have any political issues as such. If people do get into trouble we go out and rescue them.”