Call to end cockle chaos

WebCockles 191011

AN MP has called for urgent action to tackle the “chaos” which has been caused by cockle picking in Lytham.

Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, has called for an urgent meeting with Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon MP, following a string of incidents linked to the cockling activity near Seafield Road.

He has also urged the IFCA, who are responsible for issuing permits to cocklers, to look at revoke the licenses of cocklers who cause problems for the local community or are operating dangerously.

And, while many local fishermen have followed the rules and have the proper training, he warns lives are being put at risk by unsafe, inexperienced fishermen without proper equipment.

It follows a series of emails and letters from residents raising fears over anti-social behaviour and other problems and after five Polish cocklers got into trouble and had to be rescued by the RNLI.

Mr Menzies said Fylde Council and the Police were doing everything they could to tackle the problem but needed to be given greater control.

He said: “I’ve driven past the area myself on a number of occasions and it appears to be chaos.

“The council and the police are doing everything they can to tackle incidents that are taking place and trying to bring the situation under control.

“I feel the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) who issue licenses should give greater scrutiny to who they are granting licenses to and should be looking to withdraw or suspend licenses at the first sign of trouble.

“I’ve written to them now to request more information and ask that they consider doing so.”

Mr Menzies has now written to the IFCA and hopes to meet with the Minister or senior officials from DEFRA soon.

With this year’s cockle harvest expected to be fully exploited and the possibility of fishermen returning to the Ribble Estuary in years to come once stocks are replenished, Mr Menzies wants the authorities to be better prepared next time.

“It seems lack of preparedness due to a lack of communication,” he said.

“The IFCA need to work more closely with councils and police forces to help them to tackle the issues it creates.

“There also needs to be greater communication with local residents for whom this has been a major headache.

“I think a multi-agency approach is needed to tackle the problem and the action needs to be urgent and immendiate.”

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