Following concerns raised by residents in the Solway area over illegal cockle picking, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead has called a meeting of public bodies.
Fishing for cockles from the Solway Firth is currently banned, however there are allegations that gangs are illegally harvesting cockles in the area and causing a disturbance to local communities.
Mr Lochhead has asked Marine Scotland to invite public bodies and local interests to a meeting in Dumfries on August 10, which will seek to ensure greater cooperation in an attempt to resolve the issue.
Mr Lochhead said:
“I fully recognise the serious concerns expressed by local residents about gangs who appear to be illegally cockling from the Solway Firth. While cockle gathering in the area is banned, the potential for such activities to take place at night in highly dangerous conditions means it can be very difficult to catch individuals in the act.
“That’s why I have asked Marine Scotland, the local police force, and other public bodies to work together in order to develop additional measures that can support the ban to be implemented. This meeting will include discussions on proposals to improve the regulatory framework so that the problem of illegal cockling can be effectively dealt with.
“We are fully committed to stamping out any instance of illegal fishing in Scotland and I hope this action will give the local community in the Solway area reassurances that we are taking their concerns very seriously.”
Cockle fishing in the Solway Firth has been banned since September 2011 due to the potential risks posed to fragile cockle stocks.