Fears surface of cockling clashes – Fishupdate.com

Fears surface of cockling clashes Published:  17 March, 2006

FEARS have been raised with the Scottish Executive about possible cockle ‘wars’ on the Solway Firth, the BBC has reported.

An order has been introduced to allow fishing to restart within days but concerns continue about the licence system used to regulate gathering. Some hand gatherers without licences reportedly said they will fish on – complaining about how the permits were allocated. That has fuelled fears of potential clashes between them and newly licensed cocklers in the area.

Dumfries MSP Elaine Murray has taken the concerns to the Scottish Parliament’s environment and rural development committee. “Feelings are running very high on this issue, and anything that can be done to allay concerns and take the issues forward will, I hope, be helpful in calming tempers,” she reportedly said. “I am worried, however, that the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) has currently no powers to assist the Solway Shellfish Management Association (SSMA) in the event of illegal activity.

“Some cocklers who have not been granted licences have threatened in the press that they will turn up to fish when the fishery reopens, and this could be a difficult situation for the SSMA to police,” warned Dr Murray. She said she would like to see tighter legislation in place to help enforce the new licence system.

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