Burry Inlet: Cockle Gathering

Burry Inlet: Cockle Gathering



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Evidence of cockle gathering in the Burry Inlet traces the fishery back to the Mesolithic period
with records of shell middens from archaeological excavations on the surrounding shores. An
organised commercial fishery has existed on both shores of the Burry Inlet from Roman times
continuing through the middle ages.

The fishery was traditionally carried out by women using a rake and riddles much like those
employed today gathering between 100-150 kg per day. The traditional method of transporting
cockles from the beds using donkeys was superseded in the 1920s with the introduction of
horse-drawn carts allowing the ~250 gatherers to transport up to 500 kg per day. This increase
in gathering capacity resulted in the introduction of a minimum landing size in 1921 in order to
safeguard the reproductive capacity of the stock. Landing controls in the form of daily quotas
were introduced in the 1950’s in response to increases in landings.

The Burry Inlet Cockle Fishery Order was established in 1965 to enable the licensing through
limited permits of the cockle fishery therefore control fishing effort and landings of cockle.
Numbers of licenses issued have ranged from 43-67 and currently there are 50 issued. The
Order was granted to the South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee (SWSFC) who managed the
fishery until 2010 when the Environment Agency became the grantee following the
reorganisation of sea fisheries management by Welsh Assembly Government.



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