Statement: From January 1, 1993, an EC Directive will allow cockles caught in one country to be cooked in another. This has been interpreted to mean that scores of foreign boats will exploit cockle beds off the Essex coast.
Response: From January 1,1993, existing UK public health requirements on molluscs are being replaced by new EC requirements (Directive 91/493/EEC, L 268 of 24.9.91). One effect will be that cockles from certain parts of the Thames estuary will no longer have to be processed in a particular plant at Leigh-on-Sea. It is possible that more UK operators may enter the fishery once it is permissible to have the cockles processed in approved plants elsewhere in the EC. However, everyone fishing for cockles within 3 miles of the coast of England and Wales is subject to local Sea Fisheries Committees bye-laws. Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries Committee have made 6 bye-laws which are intended to impose greater control on cockle fishing within their district. These have now been submitted for ministerial confirmation and are currently being considered.