Mussel bed opening not a ‘free for all’

Wyre estuary
Wyre estuary

Fishermen across the Fylde coast have been warned not to start a “free-for-all” after a regional fishing authority gave permission to reopen a large mussel bed.

Perch Scar in Fleetwood will be fished for seed mussel later this month after the North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) approved its reopening.

Coun Gordon McCann

Coun Gordon McCann

But Wyre councillor Gordon McCann said it must be fished responsibly – and warned the same mistakes should not be repeated as in Lytham in 2011 and 2012, when dozens of fishermen had to be rescued by the RNLI after getting into difficulty fishing for cockles.

He added: “We must be very careful about a free-for-all. It certainly happened in the River Ribble.

“The concern I have is it should be strictly controlled.

“The fishermen cannot destroy the beds. It should be fished sustainably. That is what the authority has tried to achieve.

“The sustainability of fishing should come first. A free-for-all can be dangerous, as we have seen before at Lytham.”

The decision to open the bed comes after it was closed in 2012 when a poisonous form of bacteria was found in six Wyre shellfish pools.

Fishermen and residents were warned to stay away from the beds in Knott End after dangerous levels of E coli were found during a routine test.

The decision to reclassify the beds, which included Marine Beach, Knott Spit, Wyre End Scar, North Wharf, King Scar and Perch Scar, was taken because of their threat to the public.

But Coun McCann said the decision to reopen Perch Scar was evidence “the NWIFCA had found no trace” of the harmful bacteria.

A spokesman for the NWIFCA said the decision to open the bed was taken after fears the mussels could perish if not fished.

He added: “The NWIFCA has decided that as the seed mussel at Perch Scar does not persist through the winter that it should be opened as a seed mussel fishery.”

The bed will open from October 22 to December 9, between Monday to Friday.

A council spokeswoman said: “We are supporting the opening of Perch Scar and working with fishermen in advance to make sure they operate safely and our nearby car park and the marine front are used for access in a considerate manner.”

Any fisherman wishing to fish the bed can contact Wyre Council on (01253) 891000.