Farron fights for local cockling rights
South Lakes MP Tim Farron has raised the issue of illegal cockling in Parliament, amid the closure of the North West cockle beds.
Morecambe Bay cockling permits are intended to crack down on illegal cockling, but locals currently have no priority on the waiting list. Granted after a day's training, permits are restricted to experienced fishermen but no protection or promotion of local industry is in place.
Cockling without proper training is a dangerous activity which can put fishermen in danger and also put the fragile local ecology at risk. Following over 20 emergency call outs in the last two months, fishing has been banned on the North West cockle beds. But with cockles fetching from £400 to £1250 per tonne, the incentives to harvest in dangerous waters are as high as ever, while local industries suffer.
Commenting, Tim said: "I am very concerned that no effort has been made to protect our local fishermen's livelihoods. We need to crack down on illegal cockling. Some of these families have been plying their trade here for centuries. Their livelihoods are being damaged by unscrupulous and dangerous overfishing.
"I never want to see a repeat of the Morecombe Bay disaster. Illegal cockling is a breeding ground for abusing migrant workers and we cannot let this exploitation continue. The best way to protect our cockle beds and to ensure safety is to give experienced local fishermen priority when it comes to granting permits and to effectively police the bay"