The Wash Cockle Fishery 2022 – Update
Eastern IFCA has set up a Wash Cockle Fishery Stakeholder Group with six Wash fishing representatives to discuss the results of the 2022 cockle surveys, the conservation requirements relating to birds (bird-food-model), and to ascertain whether there could be sufficient stocks to support a cockle fishery this year.
This is in response to the results of this year’s survey which show that the stocks in the regulated fishery are potentially unable to support a fishery this year (see Sustainability of Fisheries in The Wash).
The first meeting of the Group took place at 12.30 on Monday 13th June 2022 and involved productive and robust discussion around several key issues including, among other things, industry information on potential fishable areas, how Eastern IFCA determines fishable cockle density, the bird-food-model, the need to protect juvenile cockles, the purpose of Marine Protected Areas and communication between Eastern IFCA and the industry generally. The draft notes from the meeting are available at the bottom of this page.
As part of this Eastern IFCA officers are working closely with industry to conduct additional surveys of cockle and mussel stocks based on industry knowledge of The Wash (see Eastern IFCA and Fishermen Jointly Undertake Additional Surveys in The Wash in Response to Fishing Industry Concerns over the Potential Lack of a Cockle Fishery in 2022). We are also working with Natural England and others to check the accuracy of data used in the bird-food-model and the potential for revising some of the parameters for supporting data.
Having had some initial discussions with the RSPB regarding the data on bird populations used for the model, we are cautiously optimistic that it may be possible to meet the model’s threshold and if so, a fishery could be opened which would not impact the Marine Protected Area. However, even if the threshold were to be met, surveys indicate that cockles on the ground are too young and small in size to support a fishery this year and that adult cockle stocks are low and spread in lower densities than would ordinarily support a viable fishery. This means that opening a fishery this year could potentially jeopoardise the sustainability of stocks and their ability to support future fisheries which would be detrimental to the long-term viability of the industry.
We will be holding additional meetings of the Wash Cockle Fishery Stakeholder Group and consulting more widely to inform further consideration of the matter and seek the best possible outcome.
The agreed meeting notes are available to be read here: Wash Cockle Fishery 2022 Stakeholder Group Meeting (Monday 13th June 2022).