MSP Alex Fergusson and MP Russell Brown have welcomed a statement by Marine Scotland that it will hold a meeting in Dumfries to discuss ‘management options for Solway cockle fishery’.
Speaking after the date of 18 October was made known, Mr Fergusson said: “While this meeting is later than originally promised, it is nonetheless welcome as it is imperative that we decide in a sustainable model of fishery before any fishery can be opened. The clear intention is to open a fishery next summer, and Marine Scotland have a huge responsibility to ensure the current stock of cockles on the Solway is kept in tact until then. That will mean extra levels of security and enforcement to prevent illegal activity, and it will not be easy.
“I have always believed in the potential for a long term industry based on shellfish in the Solway, which accords with the Scottish Government’s Marine Act 2010 that has an aim of increasing shellfish production in Scotland by at least 100 percent. This meeting could be the start of a process to help to achieve that aim and I would encourage everyone with an interest to attend it.”
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown added: “The ban on cockle fishing was brought in to protect future stocks on the Solway coast, but until the illegal cockling gangs that flout the ban are stopped then cockles will struggle to return to a sustainable level.
“Central to the plan to re-open the Solway coast must be a serious attempt by the Scottish Government to clamp down on illegal cockling. We need to see this illegal activity stamped out once and for all.”
Those wishing to do so should register their intention to attend by emailing Susan Ewart at Susan.Ewart1@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.