THE great cockle grab in the estuary off Lytham is earning Fylde a drop in the ocean.
Hundreds of cocklers have turned up to rake in thousands of pounds from the rich harvest, but comparatively, Fylde’s income from it is small fry.
A council spokesman said: “There’s a £1,000 concession available to Fylde Council from the merchants who buy the cockles.
“The cocklers are permitted, but that’s by the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA).”
The spokesman said three merchants were operating.
Cocklers’ licence fees are paid directly to IFCA.
Resident, Jim Sayers, of Ribble Point, Inner Promenade, Fairhaven, said: “Now the cocklers are swarming all over the estuary, it is clear from the numbers involved that there is a lot of money to be made.
“It begs the question, how is the local economy benefiting? Most of those involved are from well outside the area, even outside Lancashire.
“Assuming that they all have licenses, where do the proceeds go?”
He added: “At 1pm last Saturday there were almost 100 vehicles, many with boat trailers, on the foreshore adjacent to Seafield Road slipway and more parked in Seafield Road and Fairlawn Road.
“There was no-one monitoring the comings and goings. Has our council given thought to making a charge for access to the slipway?
“A charge of £50 per vehicle would be peanuts to the cocklers, who are reputed to be earning £250 per day.
“Such a charge would raise several thousand pounds. Instead, we will probably just be left with the bill for clearing up after them.
“Please tell me I am wrong and that we are getting something out it.”
One gang of cocklers, from North Wales, operating from the Fairhaven Road car park, next to the Beach Terrace Cafe, said they were putting something back into the local economy. One, who did not want to be named, said: “We will be here now every day, hopefully till May.
“It is good for local trade. We are going to get breakfasts here every day.”
Karen McLoughlin, who runs the Beach Terrace Cafe, South Promenade, said: “No, we’ve not had any noticeable difference in trade.”
Robert Silverwood, who runs the Lowther Pavilion cafe, said: “If they are taking from the area it would be nice if they were contributing to it.”