Tenth successive year for Dee estuary cockle beds

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has announced that the Dee Estuary cockle beds will open on 1 July 2017.

This is the tenth 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, birds and the wider environment.

Surveys this year show very good stocks of large cockles, due in part to the way the fishery was managed last year.

This season, NRW has agreed that cocklers can harvest a total of 3,796 tonnes of cockles, to be reviewed mid-way through the season. This means that each licensed cockler is allowed to harvest 500kilogrammes a day (Monday-Saturday).

NRW Operations Manager Nick Thomas said: “Opening for ten successive years is unprecedented and 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.

Now, there are 53 licensed cocklers on the Dee. They 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.

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