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27th March 2014


In 2010 Kent & Essex Sea Fisheries Committee made a decision not to open the cockle beds within the Thames Permit Cockle Fishery (the area outside the Regulating Order). This was due to concerns that there was a possibility that whatever was causing the high cockle mortality in the Wash could be spread to our District. This decision has been reviewed each year by the Committee and, since 2011, the Kent & Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.

At the Authority meeting on 14 May 2013, following lengthy discussion, Members decided that developing a Code of Practice with the Cockle Industry could be a way of managing this potential risk to the Thames cockle fishery and therefore allowing the beds to be opened for a period in October 2013.

In order to develop this Code of Practice we want to work with fishermen and our stakeholders to provide us with the information we need to make sure the code is workable and effective

We are running a formal consultation period from 4 July 2013 to 24 July 2013 with all stakeholders and will use their written replies to place before the Authority to evidence that the Industry understands and will follow a Code of Practice. We understand that the consultation period is short; however KEIFCA needs to work quickly to develop this approach before our next Authority meeting in September.

There is concern that the risk of mortality to the Thames cockle stock will be higher due to the voluntary nature of any potential Code of Practice. In order to allay this concern, we would encourage you to respond to this consultation with your views and whether you agree or disagree with a Code.

You should be aware that if the Authority does not receive sufficient written replies of support it will be very difficult for Members to be confident that any Code of Practice would be complied with. It is likely that if this is the case the Authority would not open the Fishery. Verbal replies, while useful, will not be regarded in the same light as a written statement of intent.

Once the consultation period has ended, officers will develop the final wording for the Code of Practice and then hold a series of meetings in the Wash and Thames area. These meetings will discuss with fishermen how the Code of Practice will be applied and how officers will monitor and report back to the Authority on its success.

This possibility of opening will also be subject to cockle stock data being gathered for this area and by officers developing suitable management measures to satisfy the Authority that the stock can be fished sustainably.

The decision to open the beds will be made by Members at the Authority meeting on 5 September 2013. Fishermen requiring a permit will be asked to apply before 21 August 2013 to allow officers to recommend a Total Allowable Catch at this meeting.

KEIFCA Authority Members were very clear at the meeting on 14 May that if fishermen did not follow the agreed Code of Practice then the Fishery would be immediately closed.

To download a copy of the Code of Practice please click here

To download a copy of the consultation please click here.

Completed forms should be emailed to:

or by post to:

Dr W H Wright (Chief IFCO)
Paragon House
Albert Street
CT11 9HD