environmental concerns over cockling
WIRRAL Council is working with partners
from a number of organisations to address concerns about the impact of shellfish
harvesting off the coast around Leasowe Bay.
Licensed harvesting at Leasowe has been permitted since the start of September
after it was found that cockles were of sufficient size and supply in that
location to open the cockle beds up to commercial gathering.
The activities are regulated by the North Western Inshore Fisheries and
Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) which works in co-operation with the local
authority, Natural England and the Food Standards Agency to manage the
The Council has provided dedicated vehicle parking, bins and toilet facilities
at a cost to the industry in an effort to ensure the activity doesn't impact
negatively on the local environment and on residents and visitors.
However, the arrangements are currently being reviewed as local people have
expressed concerns over littering and other anti social activities taking place
close to the harvesting areas.
Cllr Phillip Brightmore, Cabinet member for Environment, said:- "The
people gathering shellfish off the coast at Leasowe have a legal right to be
there, they are professionals and fully licensed by NWIFCA to operate. However,
they also have a responsibility to be considerate to others; local residents,
visitors and wildlife; as they go about their business and while the Council has
put measures in place to assist them, we have receiving reports that give us
cause for concern. With that in mind, we are re-engaging with our partners to
remind the licensed gatherers of their responsibilities and we will seek to take
enforcement action if littering or other issues continue around this location."
The harvesting season is open while viable stock is sufficiently plentiful or
until April 30 2018, whichever comes soonest. The numbers of people permitted to
work on the cockle beds is strictly controlled by NWIFCA and they are restricted
as to how they carry out the harvesting; by hand only; and over how they
access the beach.
In addition to this, the industry has also agreed to take steps to reduce noise
levels, particularly during the night time.
Cllr Brightmore added:- "We take the concerns raised seriously and while
we have already put measures in place to help minimise the impact on local
people and the local environment, it is right that we continue to monitor
activities and take action where necessary. If anyone commits
environmental crime whilst in the borough they will be subject to fixed penalty
notices and the costs associated with cleaning up after them recovered. Wirral
Council will not tolerate environmental crime."