Ribble cockle bed in health scare

Cockle pickers
Cockle pickers

COCKLING will not be given the go-ahead off Lytham after tests revealed extremely high levels of E.Coli and faecal coliforms in the Ribble estuary.

Tests carried out by West Lancs Environmental Health Department from July 9 have shown the cockles are unfit for human consumption.

The planned fishery for Foulnaze Bank will not now open on July 25 as planned.

North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority Stephen Atkins said: “Cockles in the Ribble area are unfit for human consumption and dangerous to eat, even if cooked.

“Trade in Ribble cockles is prohibited until further notice.

“Due to these circumstances outside the control of the NWIFCA, the planned fishery for Foulnaze Bank will not open on July 25 and will remain closed until further notice.”

The opening of the fishery depends on a substantial reduction in the contamination levels and West Lancs Environmental Health giving the cockles a minimum ‘C’ classification.

Regulations require at least two consecutive uncontaminated samples to be measured at least seven days apart before a classification can be given, and it may take significantly longer than two weeks for contamination to return to acceptable levels.

Mr Atkins added: “Repeat sampling of the Ribble cockles will be undertaken as a matter of urgency and two more samples are scheduled to be taken over the next two weeks.”

The NWIFCA will not be issuing permits for the Foulnaze Bank until contamination begins to decrease and there is reasonable indication that the fishery may open.

Applicants may continue to send in paperwork for permits by post so that paperwork can continue to be processed, but are requested not to call in person as this will delay the issuing of permits.