Cockle fishery in Leigh certified as sustainable
PUBLISHED: 12:41 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:41 26 February 2020
A cockle fishery in the Thames Estuary that was close to collapse in the 1980s has now been independently certified as sustainable
Local cockles marked with the Marine Stewardship Council's blue label will be available from July 2020 - the start of the next cockle fishing season - from community-run Leigh Port Partnership.
Operating out of Leigh on Sea, Whitstable and Queenborough, the Leigh Port Partnership fishery has 14 licenced boats.
They share a 'total allowable catch' for cockles, which is set at a scientifically agreed level. The boats only go to agreed areas of the Thames Estuary, fishing for cockles off the coast of Essex during July to September, and during October only at one site off the coast of Kent.
The fishery limits cockling to four months of the year and up to a scientifically assessed maximum quota of cockles that have grown to a minimum size.
These actions help to make sure the shellfish have time to reach maturity and reproduce, a key part of fishing sustainably.
This also factors in the needs of estuary wildlife such as wading birds that overwinter on the tidal banks where cockles are found.
Leigh Port Partnership spokesperson, Andrew Rattley, said: 'The historic fishery has been an important part of our local community for hundreds of years.
'This certification proves our fishers continue to be committed to the sustainability of the fishery into the future.'