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THE THAMES ESTUARY COCKLE FISHERY ORDER 1994 REGULATIONS

September 2016

The local fisheries Authority for the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation District in exercise of the powers conferred on them by Article 3 of the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order 1994 under the Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act 1967, as amended, hereby makes the following regulations:-

 

REGULATION No. 1 - CONSTRUCTION OF INSTRUMENTS AND FISHING GEAR

No person shall, without the written consent of the Authority, operate any instrument or fishing gear for the purpose of taking, riddling, sorting or grading cockles unless all surfaces acting to retain the catch be constructed of parallel bars with an average space between bars of no less than 16 millimetres.

 

This requirement shall not apply to pipes used to convey water or catch between the seabed and any fishing vessel.

 

The Authority may give written consent for the use of instruments or fishing gear, otherwise prohibited by this Regulation, to all licence holders for a specified area and for a specified period of time for specific purposes including the thinning of overpopulated stock, removal and thinning of cockles which have not shown good growth or for the purposes of relaying. Consent will only be given where the Authority is satisfied that the quality of a bed would be enhanced by the removal of cockles.

 

When operating within Harvesting Areas 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5a described in Part I of the Schedule and shown for illustrative purposes only on the map in Part II of the Schedule, no person shall operate equipment used for the purpose of riddling, sorting or grading cockles unless all surfaces acting to retain the catch be constructed of parallel bars with an average space between bars of no less than 16 millimetres and no more than 16.5 millimetres.

 

No person may operate cockle harvesting equipment unless it incorporates a riddle which is at least 1750 millimetres in length and which is designed and operated so that the retained cockles are in contact with the riddle for its full length.

No person may operate cockle harvesting equipment which is in contact with the seabed which has an opening aperture, blade or rake measuring more than 760 millimetres in width.

 

No person may use at any time or carry on board more than one piece of cockle harvesting equipment which is designed to be in contact with the seabed. 

 

REGULATION No. 2 - PROHIBITION ON THE REMOVAL OF SMALL COCKLES

No person shall, without the written consent of the Authority, remove from the regulated fishery cockles of which more than 10% by weight, of a representative sample, will pass through a space 16 millimetres in width. A representative sample will consist of no less than 200 kilograms of cockles. Small cockles rejected as a result of the requirements of this Regulation shall be returned immediately to the sea. 

 

The Authority will give written consent for a specified area and specified period of time to all licence holders to permit the removal of cockles otherwise prohibited by this regulation, when written consent has been given by the Authority under the regulation relating to the Construction of Instruments and Fishing Gear.

 

 

 

REGULATION No. 3 - LIMITATION ON THE MAXIMUM QUANTITY OF COCKLES THAT MAY BE REMOVED FROM THE FISHERY

Except as permitted by the written authority of the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority no licence holder shall, within any fishing trip carry on board or land more than 13.6 cubic metres of cockles taken from the area of the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order.

 

Any such written authority shall permit all licence holders to take specified quantities of cockles greater than 13.6 cubic metres during specified periods, subject to annual Total Allowable Catch limits. Such written authority shall be granted only where cockle stocks are sufficiently plentiful to permit increased quantities of cockles to be taken during the periods so specified.

 

For the purpose of this regulation:

 

(a)     13.6 cubic metres of cockles is deemed equivalent to 500 baskets, at 6 gallons of cockles per basket.

 

(b )    When calculating the quantity of cockles removed no allowance shall be made in respect of the quantity of any dead shell, sand, other species or debris mixed with the catch

 

REGULATION No. 4 - REGULATON OF FISHING OPERATIONS

Persons taking cockles from within the area of the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order 1994 must land their catch before commencing fishing during another specified fishing period.

 

No cockles shall be carried on board a fishing vessel at the time of commencement of fishing for cockles within the area of the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order 1994.

 

Except as permitted by the written authority of the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority when a vessel is engaged in, or has during a specified fishing period been engaged in, dredging, fishing or taking cockles within the area of the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order 1994 all cockles carried on board or landed shall be considered to have been taken from within the area of the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order 1994.

 

Such written authority shall only be given if :-

 

(a)    A licence holder has applied in writing for such authority, specifying where and when they shall be fishing during the specified fishing period to which the application relates; and

(b)    the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority is satisfied that the total quantities of cockles to be taken from the Regulated Fishery, by that licence holder, during the relevant specified fishing period will not exceed the quantities permitted for that licence holder for that period.

 

For the purpose of this regulation a “specified fishing period” is one of the permitted fishing periods specified in license conditions made under Section 4 (6) of the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order 1994.

 

REGULATION No. 5 - REPORTING OF COCKLE LANDINGS

Persons landing cockles taken from within the area of the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order 1994 must give at least 2 hours notice of landing.

 

Notice of landing shall be given either directly to an appointed officer of the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority or by leaving a message on an appointed telephone line.

 

Details of the appointed officer, or officers, of the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and telephone line on which messages should be left will be given to each licence holder.

 

 

REGULATION No. 6 - CARRIAGE OF COCKLES

No person shall carry on board or remove cockles from the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order 1994 unless they are loaded into bags or containers that have a capacity of 1.13 cubic metres.

 

All such bags or containers shall be clearly marked with a load line if capacity is not level with the top of the side surfaces above which cockles may not be loaded .

 

The capacity of all such bags or containers shall have been checked by an officer of the Authority and shall be marked to show that this check has taken place.

 

As an alternative to the above requirements it shall be permitted for a licence holder to carry cockles loose in the hold of their vessel provided that a hold load line has been calculated by a Maritime and Coastguard Agency authorised organisation appointed vessel surveyor to show the level to which the hold may be filled to contain 13.6 cubic metres of cockles or other quantity that may be specified under Regulation No. 3. Documentation of these calculations shall be submitted to the Authority and a clear mark shall be placed on all four sides of the hold showing this calculated load line.

 

In addition the hold capacity at the load line must be cross-checked by means of transferring a loaded catch of cockles into a straight-sided container in the presence of an officer of the Authority who will measure the volume of the container. The volume of cockles loaded into the container will be calculated by the Authority officer and any error in the position of the load line marking on the vessel hold will be adjusted to arrive at an approved loadline. As the cockles loaded into the straight-sided container will not have settled as they would have done in the hold of the vessel an additional allowance of 0.4 cubic metres will be added. Making a total container volume of 14.00 cubic metres. Once the position of the hold load line has been approved it shall be permanently marked by fixing a straight shelf or ledge along two parallel sides of the hold by means of welding or other permanent means. In addition a straight edged rod of a length equal to the distance between the two parallel sides of the hold shall be kept on each vessel for the purpose of laying from one ledge to the other to ensure that the catch is loaded level and not above the permitted load line.

 

In addition, the full permitted catch of vessels loading into approved bags shall be cross-checked in a similar manner.

 

In normal circumstances these cross checks will be carried out no more than once per year or when hold/bag dimensions are changed.

 

To enable checks for compliance with these Regulations cockles carried loose in a vessel hold shall be stowed level.

 

For the purpose of Regulations made under this Order the quantity of cockles taken from the fishery shall be that quantity of cockles contained within a volume as specified under Regulation No. 3. 

 

REGULATION No. 7 - LIMITATION ON THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF LANDINGS PER SPECIFIED FISHING PERIOD

No person shall make more than a specified number of landings of cockles removed from the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order 1994, during any one specified fishing period.

 

A list specifying the maximum number of landings that licence holders may make per specified fishing period will be provided to each licence holder.

 

For the purpose of this regulation a “specified fishing period” is one of the permitted fishing periods specified in license conditions made under Section 4 (6) of the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order 1994.

 

 

REGULATION No. 8 - APPROVAL OF FISHING GEAR

No person shall operate any instrument or fishing gear for the purpose of taking cockles from within the area of the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order 1994 unless a certificate of approval for the instrument or fishing gear has been issued by the Authority.   A certificate of approval shall be available to all applicants who fulfil the conditions set out below.

 

A certificate of approval will not be granted if the instrument or fishing gear, when operating at its normal speed over the ground, results in more than 10% of cockles, measured by weight, being visibly damaged. Damage rate will be assessed by taking a representative sample of cockles taken by the dredging operation. This will include cockles that are being retained and also cockles rejected by the riddle.

For the purpose of this regulation cockles will be considered to be visibly damaged when on examination it is seen that there are visible cracks, chips or there is other damage to the shell.

 

All rakes used by hand to take cockles are exempt from this regulation.

 

The certificate of approval will be valid until the following 31st December.

 

Approval will take account of the performance and assessment during inspections of the instrument of fishing gear whilst in operation, during the preceding 12 months.

 

New instruments or fishing gear may be given a provisional certificate of approval for a period of one month in order to permit assessment.

 

 

REGULATION No. 9 – SIZE OF VESSEL

No person shall harvest cockles using a relevant fishing vessel which:

(a) exceeds 14 metres in overall length; or

(b) exceeds 5 metres in overall width.