Illegal cocklers are found on Morecambe sands
Illegal cocklers were back in Morecambe Bay despite the beds being closed.
The cocklers, said to be of ‘Oriental appearance’ by Morecambe Coastguard were discovered near the car park at Morecambe Golf Club after a report of suspected illegal cockling activity at around 6.15am on June 13.
Shaun Cowell, acting deputy station director for Morecambe Coastguard, said: “They claimed to have been told in Derby that you could come to Morecambe to pick cockles, which isn’t the case.
“There were eight of them, of Oriental appearance, in two cars and they claimed they were picking the cockles for personal use.The cockles they were picking were a good size.
“We told them the beds were closed and made them put the cockles back. Each of them had two gallon buckets and rakes and they were trying to fill them.
“They then asked about the mussels but we told them you needed a permit to pick those as well.
“They were on the channel on the shore side near the golf club so they weren’t in any danger as the tide was going out.
“We will have to wait and see . We explained the dangers of the tides and they weren’t aware the time thetide was coming in. They claimed they had been told that they were ok up until 12pm that day.
“We as the coastguard don’t have any legal status, all we can do is advise on safety issues.
“We spoke to them about the deaths of the Chinese cocklers in Morecambe Bay in 2004
“We need to make people realise that the coastguard are here as an emergency service.
“The worrying thing is if they say ‘let’s do it when it’s dark’then anything can happen.
“Morecambe is a lovely bay but it’s got its issues.
“If anyone sees anybody picking cockles they need to inform the Coastguard and the Fisheries Authority.”
None of the cocklers, who are believed to have come from an address in Derby, were injured.
Fisheries Protection have been advised of the incident, say the coastguard.
Police said one of their patrols came across five men preparing to go out on the sands near Morecambe Golf Club at 5.45am on Tuesday.
The men were given safety advice and the information was passed on to the coastguard and the Fisheries Authority,
In 2004 23 people were drowned by an incoming tide while picking cockles in Morecambe Bay.