The traditional cockle hand-raking fishery on Leasowe Beach in the Wirral reopened at the beginning of this month for the first time since 2010, reports Geoff Abbott.

Above: Leaving the beach with the hard-won return from the first tide.

In the intervening seven years, the North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) has introduced sweeping changes to the regulatory and management regime.

Hand-raking for cockles on Leasowe beach.

Another two cockle fisheries, at Pilling Sands and Flookburgh/Leven Sands in Morecambe Bay, have also been opened by the NWIFCA.

Full Habitats Regulations Assessments were carried out for each fishery, in addition to extensive planning in collaboration with other agencies, which will assist with monitoring the fisheries and enforcement of the regulations.

NIFCA issued 130 byelaw permits to cockle hand-gatherers. Around 60 permit holders chose to operate on Leasowe beach for the first day of the 2017 season, with the rest reportedly targeting Morecombe Bay.

Wirral Council has designated a car park for fishermen and their vehicles at Leasowe, where those accessing the beach on quad bikes require a slipway permit from Safe Water Training.

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