Cockle beds open in Morecambe Bay

A craam is the only tool permitted to harvest the larger cockles.
A craam is the only tool permitted to harvest the larger cockles.
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Cockling will be allowed in Morecambe Bay for the first time in eight years for those with a special permit.

The North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority will open a limited cockle fishery in a small area of Morecambe Bay on days with suitable tides in daylight between April 4 and 30.

Only those already holding NWIFCA Byelaw 3 Permits to fish for cockles and mussels will be authorised to fish large old cockles using a craam.

About 100 fishermen have qualifying permits. Other fishing methods including use of a rake are prohibited to protect juvenile stock.

Fishing by the general public for small quantities without a permit for personal consumption is not allowed because the fishery is within the Morecambe Bay commercial area.

A craam is a traditional Morecambe Bay tool. It is a three pronged short handled fork designed to pick cockles one by one from the sand without causing damage to juveniles.

Fishing times have been limited to reduce disturbance to breeding birds. Access to the fishery will be only via Moor Lane, Flookburgh. Transport to the fishery must be by ATVs (quad bikes) or tractors.

No road vehicles will be permitted on the saltmarsh or shore to minimise damage to the sensitive habitats.

The ‘craam only’ fishing method has been chosen to specifically harvest a stock of large cockles which are three or more years old, while minimising damage to juvenile cockles.

For more than eight years stocks of cockles in Morecambe Bay have been too low to fish. This year there is also a stock of juveniles of less than 10mm in length which must not be fished or damaged. Visit www.nw-ifca.gov.uk.