Wash Fishery Order 1992 (WFO) – cockle fisheries management plan consultation

Eastern IFCA is seeking feedback from WFO fishermen on the revised Cockle Fisheries Management Plan and in particular on the feasibility of future dredge fisheries.

A questionnaire to inform this consultation can be downloaded by clicking here.  Please submit completed questionnaires to the Eastern IFCA Offices no later than at noon Friday 2nd August 2019.

Cockle fisheries management plan

Eastern IFCA has reviewed the previous Fisheries Management Policies 2008, which set out how the fishery is managed in the context of the conservation designations of The Wash. The revised polices incorporates the well-established approach developed since the Order was introduced in 1993.

The revised management plan builds on the 2008 policies and takes into account the modern considerations of the fishery, including for example the instances of atypical mortality and high densities of cockles causing ridging out.

Two new measures are proposed:

  • Requirement to sort catch – this requires fishers to use a net or riddle to sort catch, rather than removing cockles of all sizes as exposed by prop-washing;
  • Avoidance of mussel beds – this will require fishers to avoid mussel beds when fishing for cockle.

It is anticipated that both these measures will provisionally be considered as additions to the Code of Best Practice.

Click here to download the proposed Cockle fishery Management Plan

Cockle dredge fisheries

At the Eastern IFCA meeting on 27th April 2016 members decided that although hydraulic suction dredges should not be totally banned, future cockle fisheries should default to being hand-worked, with dredges retained only as a contingency option if exceptional circumstances required their use.

Subsequently, Eastern IFCA undertook an assessment to determine whether a dredge cockle fishery could be permissible within the WFO under any circumstances.  The findings of this assessment indicate that a dredge fishery is unlikely to be feasible for a variety of reasons including socio-economic factors, potential impacts on the environment and sustainability.


The Hydraulic Suction Dredging Impact Assessment can be viewed by clicking on the link. The conclusion can be found at page 58.


It is intended to make a final recommendation to the Authority in September and, based on the current evidence, this would be for no dredge fishery within the WFO. This consultation is intended to inform that final recommendation and will be considered by members.

N.B. The management plan still includes reference to the dredge fishery policies. This reflects that the final decision regarding future dredge fisheries has not yet been made and should it be retained as a contingency in exceptional circumstances these measures will apply and are, therefore, included in the consultation.

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