Illegal Cockle Picking in Solway Firth Discussed at Meeting13 August 2012
SCOTLAND, UK - Marine Scotland met with public bodies and local representatives in Dumfries, to discuss allegations over illegal cockle picking in the Solway Firth.
The meeting was convened last week by Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead following concerns raised by residents that gangs are illegally harvesting cockles in the area and causing a disturbance to local communities.
Mr Lochhead said: "Marine Scotland officials held a productive meeting in Dumfries this afternoon to discuss measures to effectively deal with illegal cockling in the Solway Firth. A number of options are now being considered to ensure that the existing ban can be upheld and local disturbances removed.
"A strategy will be prepared to allow all public bodies with an interest in the issue to work more closely together, including sharing intelligence. Proposals are being considered on additional enforcement powers, as well as changes to how existing offences are specified that could make them easier to enforce.
"I would like to thank all interested parties for attending the meeting today. Marine Scotland will shortly circulate a report of the meeting to all attendees and I look forward to appropriate measures being implemented that will help to resolve this issue as soon as possible."
The meeting was hosted by officials from Marine Scotland and attended by: Dumfries & Galloway Police, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, Foods Standards Agency, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, constituency MSPs and MPs for the area and community councils representatives.
Cockle fishing in the Solway Firth has been banned since September 2011 due to the potential risks posed to fragile cockle stocks.
TheFishSite News Desk