Cockle picking on the Fylde coast could be decades away from returning due to poor stock levels, according to a fisheries chief executive.
Dr Stephen Atkins, of the North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, said studies showed cockle stocks had not recovered from fishing in 2011 in the Foulnaze Bed, off Lytham’s coastline.
He added: “There is no prospect of it (the Foulnaze bed) opening for the foreseeable future.
“There are no cockles at the moment.
“The bed was fished and we left a little to try to recover.
“I do not think what is there has died off, but predicting when we might have cockle picking is tough. There is no set rule to when they spawn and reproduce.”
The bed re-opened in 2011, having been closed for more than 20 years, with thousands of tons of cockles picked in two months.
However, cockle picking was closed soon after, following 26 coastguard rescues in the same period, as hundreds of fishermen targeted the bed.
The area re-opened to fishermen, but under much stricter guidelines, with boats and skippers requiring safety licences.
Dr Atkins admitted it was hard to estimate the reopening of the beds.
He added: “In terms of when the bed will reopen, your guess is as good as mine.
“It could be 10 to 15 years, it could be at any time.
“We have not been able to study enough.”