Morecambe Bay mussel beds reopen

Mussel beds have reopened in Morecambe Bay.
Mussel beds have reopened in Morecambe Bay.
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Mussel beds near Morecambe Battery have reopened.

The North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) made the decision to reopen the seed mussel beds at Heysham Flat Skear after surveying stocks of the shellfish.

Lancaster City Council has also issued guidelines for fishermen using nearby slipways to ensure safety both for fishermen and the public. The Oakley Road slipway will be used by those working for shellfish buyers. Up to two tractors and trailer permits will be offered to each of the buyers. Tractors and trailers will drive out and park on the beach close to the beds. Quad bikes will drive out to the mussel beds from Oakley Road, work on the beds and load directly onto the back of the trailer. The seed mussel will then be taken off in one go at the end of each day. The Battery slipway will be allocated for self-employed commercial fishermen who will be allowed to operate from and store small quantities of shellfish at the top of the Battery car park. A compound will be erected to restrict public access and split the slipway in two.

Coun David Smith, cabinet member with responsibility for Environmental Services said: “While the decision to re-open the mussel beds is the responsibility of NWIFCA, the city council has the task of controlling access to the beach.

“With activity being centred on the Battery car park at a time of the year when visitors and local people are making the most of the last week of the summer holidays, this is particularly challenging.

“I’m confident that the plans we have developed will strike the right balance between providing access to the beach for the fishermen while at the same time protecting the public and allowing them to access the beach safely.”

A Morecambe fisherman told The Visitor he did not expect the beds would be inundated.

“Mussel fishing is not really a lucrative business,” he said.

“I don’t expect there to be any local full-time fishermen out there.”