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Fisheries

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 8th November 2011.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Party Chair, Liberal Democrats

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate her Department has made of the number of illegal cocklers working in (a) England, (b) the North West and (c) Cumbria; and what steps she is taking to reserve permits for local fishermen.

Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) are responsible for the management of cockle fisheries in England. These fisheries are primarily managed through permit schemes. Permitting schemes are district wide in application, and limit the number of active fishermen and/or the quantities of cockles that can be harvested. However, IFCAs do not restrict the issue of permits to local fishermen.

In order to obtain a North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) permit, applicants must provide evidence of identity, evidence of address and a valid national insurance number. They must also complete a one day training course on safe working in intertidal areas. Permits are restricted to experienced fishermen, although the byelaw provides for 40 new permits to be issued each year from a waiting list.

By its nature, illegal fishers cannot be accurately quantified. IFCAs use all available resources to enforce their individual permit schemes. The NWIFCA is responsible for the management of the cockle fisheries in the North West and Cumbria. 440 permits were issued for 2011-12 under NWIFCA Byelaw No.5.

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