Illegal cocklers cannot be stopped, claims MP

LOCAL politicians have called on the Scottish Government to take responsibility for dealing with illegal cocklers along the Solway coast.

There has been a marked rise in illegal cockling in recent weeks, following a ban on cockling in the area last year. It has emerged that, while the Solway coast is closed to cockle fishing, both the police and the Scottish Government claim they are powerless to enforce the ban.

The Scottish Government is responsible for the management of the Solway, following the winding up of the Solway Shellfish and Management Association last year.

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown, and Dumfriesshire MSP, Elaine Murray, have written to the Scottish Government to demand that they take action to enforce the ban.

Mr Brown said: “Local people are getting more and more frustrated that they know these gangs are cockle fishing illegally but no one seems able to do anything about it. Everyone accepts there is a serious problem, but the Scottish Government and police are both pointing the finger at each other.

“Having a ban on cockle fishing is pointless unless it is able to be enforced. The buck stops with the Scottish Government because they manage the Solway. The criminal gangs are fully aware of the lack of policing of the waters. It is acting as an open invitation to come because the likehood of getting caught is minimal. It’s time the Scottish Government took responsibility for dealing with these gangs.

“The people the gangs use to illegally cockle fish are risking their lives out on the Solway Coast. These are dangerous waters at any time, but especially at night. This has all the makings of a tragedy waiting to happen.”