Scotland: Cockle incident raises concern after carelessness –

Scotland: Cockle incident raises concern after carelessness Published:  29 March, 2006

LATE last night Annan and Portling Coastguard Rescue Teams, Silloth RNLI Inshore lifeboat, Nith Inshore Rescue boat and Police searched the Nith Estuary and Blackshaw Bank area of the Solway Firth for a cockler/cockling dinghies reported to have suffered engine failure. Shore side investigations uncovered a mobile number for the sole occupant and communication was established briefly but was lost soon afterwards. The single male occupant had no further means of raising the alarm.

Once in the general area of the last positive sighting, the surface units were unable to locate the man or either of the dinghies which were reported to be overloaded with cockles. Fire Service thermal imaging cameras were placed on Nith IRB and Silloth RNLI ILB utilised their Night Vision equipment but still there was no trace of the vessel or occupant.

Just before one o’clock this morning, three and a half hours after the search commenced, Silloth RNLI ILB located the boats and occupant off Caerlaverock Point. The male was uninjured and was landed back ashore to waiting Police and other shoreside personnel. The dinghies were anchored off Carsethorn Point as the ebb tide and weight of the cockles were making the going hard for the two rescue boats.

Sue Todd, Rescue Co-ordination Manager at Liverpool Coastguard said: “The man involved in this incident and colleagues who had left him earlier have been involved in previous incidents, the latest being on the 18th March when the same scenario developed and the vessel had to be towed in during the early hours of the morning.

“Clearly they have learned nothing from their previous experience and continue to put to sea in vessels which are not equipped to be out during the hours of darkness. They have no navigation lights, no VHF and their stability is compromised due to the overloading of cockles (reported to be at least two tonnes of cockles on each of the two boats). Although this individual had a flotation suit on, he was not wearing his lifejacket and had no means of raising the alarm other than the mobile phone which failed to work after the initial call.

“The Coastguard, RNLI and other Independent Lifeboats exist to save life at sea but do not exist to routinely rescue individuals who have no concern for their own safety or the safety of others. It is common sense and good practice to ensure that your engine is maintained and reliable, that your vessel is not overloaded and that you are equipped to such an extent that you are able to raise the alarm and provide positional information to HM Coastguard – none of which was evident on this or the previous occasion”. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.