NRW’s cockle management team recognised for outstanding achievement

Natural Resources Wales’ Cockle Management Team has been recognised for its outstanding achievement in its efforts to support bird life and promote low impact harvesting on the Dee Estuary and the Burry Inlet cockle fisheries.

The team has been selected as this year’s winner of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) UK Ocean Leadership Award for 2023 by a panel of external expert judges.

The judges recognised the team’s efforts to promote low impact harvesting and its work supporting bird life in the area, as well as its longstanding relationship and commitment to the MSC, which is the world’s leading ecolabel for sustainable seafood with a mission to protect oceans and safeguard seafood supplies for the future.

The Burry Inlet and Dee Estuary Cockle Fisheries are the only MSC fisheries in Wales and comprise two out of four MSC cockle fisheries in the whole of the UK.

First certified in 2001, the Burry Inlet cockle fishery in Carmarthen Bay, south Wales, was the first bivalve mollusc fishery in the world to achieve MSC certification and the fifth fishery overall.

Meanwhile the Dee Estuary, in north Wales, which is an internationally important over-wintering site for wildfowl and wading birds, has supported a commercial fishery for well over a century.

Both fisheries are harvested by licensed gatherers who collect by hand.

NRW’s overall aim in its management of the fisheries is to develop a thriving cockle fishery which supports, protects and enhances the needs of the community and the environment upon which it depends.

Rhian Jardine, NRW’s head of marine services said:

“The whole of NRW, especially our Cockle Management Team, are delighted at the recognition of the work to manage the fisheries to the best of our abilities over the years. This is a huge honour and totally unexpected.
“The work we do to protect and enhance Wales’ environment impacts everything that matters most – our communities, our wildlife and our future.
“We do all we can to ensure Wales can survive and thrive against the backdrop of the nature, climate and pollution emergencies and we are thrilled to be recognised for our efforts with this award.”

The MSC UK Awards, which are a celebration of the commitment to sustainable seafood across the whole supply chain from ocean to plate, were held on Friday night (October 26) at the Fishmongers’ Hall, London and were sponsored by Seafood Scotland.

George Clark, MSC UK & Ireland, Programme Director, said:

“It is fitting that in this the tenth year anniversary of our awards, one of the most established MSC certified fisheries has been honoured for its dedication to sustainability.
“Over twenty years, Burry Inlet and more recently Dee Estuary have been world leading examples of fisheries management with low environmental impact. Congratulations to everyone at Natural Resources Wales for this award.”

To mark the tenth year of the awards this year, a display featuring key milestones in the MSC’s UK history was exhibited. The keynote speech was given by broadcaster and marine biologist Monty Halls, with an additional address from MSC CEO, Rupert Howes.

This year’s MSC award was handmade by eco homeware company Rawr, using crushed clam and cockle shells from the MSC certified Poole Harbour fishery in Dorset, and mussel shells from Shetland’s MSC certified fishery.