Cockling in the Solway will remain on hold after a study into a new management approach for the limited use of the area came to an abrupt halt.
It is reported that the contractor involved in the project withdrew due to “difficult conditions and low prices in key markets”.
The cockle beds of the Solway were closed to fishing following almost total depletion of stocks in the 1990s and over the years, limited numbers of hand-gathereres have been licensed to cockle there.
But in a bid to tackle illegal cockling and allow limited picking to resume once again , a management plan was to be drawn up involving the study which had been due to run until mid-September.
However, it has now come to an end and the fishery will remain closed until further notice.
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead told the BBC this week: “Marine Scotland has been working with the local community and agencies to achieve a sustainable long-term cockle fishery which delivers significant economic benefits to the wider local community.
“It is obviously disappointing the study has had to finish early but even this development is a learning point.
“Marine Scotland are content to accept the end of the contract as we feel nothing further can be learnt from the study given current market conditions.”
He said he appreciated local support for the study and that once it had been “fully considered” they would look at future management options for the fishery.
“These options will be fully discussed and explored with the local community before any final decision is taken,” he said.
“Our overarching aim remains a fishery in the Solway that is safe, sustainable and offers local benefits for years to come.”
In November last year Mr Lochead praised local support for the study. He said: “I have been heartened by the level of local support for this study. I look forward to seeing the conclusions of the study and the plans for next steps on introducing more formal management systems,”