To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions she has had with the Welsh Government on (a) the management of fish, mussels, cockles and other seafood stocks in the River Dee estuary, (b) the reasons for the closure of the cockle beds in that estuary and (c) the projected date for the reopening of those cockle beds.
Fisheries is a devolved matter, and the Dee Estuary is a cross border fishery which is managed by the Welsh Government and Natural Resources for Wales for the Welsh part of the estuary. For the English part of the estuary, fisheries management is covered by my Department, the Environment Agency, the Marine Management Organisation, and the North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.
However, Natural Resources for Wales (NRW) has responsibility for managing the cockle fishery in the Dee Estuary (on both the Welsh and English sides) as grantee of the Dee Estuary Cockle Fishery Order 2008. NRW has taken the decision to not open the fishery this year due to insufficient stocks. It has suggested that it may be opened in July 2016 should sufficient stock be available.
I have not had any direct dealings with counterparts in Wales within the Dee Estuary fisheries management context or specifically in relation to the closure of the cockle beds.