Dee cockles break boom and bust cycle
July 12 2012 Fish2Fork
Cockles from the Dee Estuary have been awarded sustainable certification by the Marine Stewardship Council.
The fishery, in a protected site of European importance for wildlife, won the prestigious blue eco-label after it was ruled that the fishers had a low impact on the environment.
They also noted that the intensity of the fishing was such that there were enough cockles left to feed the oystercatchers living in the region.
It follows a deliberate effort on the part of the Environment Agency Wales and Countryside Council for Wales to turn the area from a “boom and bust” fishery to one that is managed sustainably. It includes five main cockle beds between North Wales and the Wirral.
Cockles from the fishery are expected to be available with their newly-awarded blue eco-label in three to six months.
The assessors who analysed the estuary, an important feeding ground for wading birds, described it as “a well-managed, small and discrete fishery with low environmental impact”
Fifty cockle pickers are licensed to operate in the estuary and they can each take up to 300kg each day. The weight per picker is intended to be at a level that makes the fishery profitable and sustainable while avoiding damaging the environment. Over a year, 657 tonnes of cockles can be collected in total.
Rick Prichard, of the Environment Agency Wales said: “The Dee Estuary cockle fishery plays a vital role in boosting the local economy and providing employment to local fishermen.”
Claire Pescod, Fisheries Outreach Manager at the MSC, praised the work the Environment Agency Wales has put into making the fishery sustainable while protecting local employment.
She said: “This certification of the Dee Estuary cockle fishery is a great example of how good fishery management can bring about real environmental and economic benefits.
“By recognising the need for a limit on fishing effort – and thus the number of licenses – in a way that protects cockle pickers’ livelihoods and the local oyster catchers, Environment Agency Wales has turned a boom-and-bust fishery into one that is well managed and sustainable. That’s great news for the fishery, for the local area and for cockle lovers everywhere!”
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