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Dee estuary cockle beds open

Cockling equipment next to a bucket filled with cockles

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has announced that the Dee Estuary cockle beds will open on 2 July 2018.

This is the eleventh year in succession for the cockle beds to open since a licensing system was introduced.

The system limits the number of people allowed to gather cockles so that the fishery is managed in a sustainable way to benefit cocklers, protected birds and the wider environment.

This season, NRW has calculated that cocklers can harvest a total of 1,260 tonnes of cockles, to be reviewed mid-way through the season.

Each licensed cockler can harvest 300 kilogrammes a day (Monday-Friday).

NRW Operations Manager Nick Thomas said: “Opening for eleven successive years demonstrates that the fishery is being managed in a sustainable way.

“We are striking the right balance, ensuring enough cockles for the industry, for the estuary’s important population of birds, especially oystercatchers, and to regenerate the beds for future years.

“Our environment in Wales is the most important natural asset we have, with the potential to generate more for our economy if we use it sustainably.

“The ongoing success of the cockle beds in the Dee estuary is a great example of that.”

Before the licensing scheme, there was a boom and bust cycle to the industry.

When cockle stocks were high, the beds would be cleared out in a matter of weeks by hundreds of cocklers, resulting in the beds being closed for several years.

Currently, there are 52 licensed cocklers on the Dee.

NRW is currently reviewing the allocation of one new licence and expects to welcome a new licenced fisherman to the fishery soon.

All cocklers must adhere to regulations such as the type of equipment used, the hours when cockling can happen and a daily quota of how many cockles can be harvested.

Working in partnership with all stakeholders, NRW is confident of maintaining a sustainable fishery now and for the future.

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