The Dee Estuary and Burry Inlet cockle fishery won the Ocean Leadership award at the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) UK annual awards for its exemplary leadership and unique contribution in furthering the sustainability of fisheries.  Burry Inlet, in Carmarthen Bay, Wales, became the world’s first MSC certified bivalve mollusc fishery in 2001 and was followed by Dee Estuary, in North Wales, in 2012.

Both are now managed on a joint MSC certificate by Natural Resources Wales (NRW). The award recognises the efforts of NRW to support bird life in the area.

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 October 26 at the Fishmongers’ Hall, London.

With a few simple, low impact tools – a rake, sieve, and sacks to transport the harvested cockles – Dee Estuary and Burry Inlet cockle fishery has repeatedly met the increasingly high bar of the MSC Fisheries Standard. In 2022 they merged their certificates and in February 2023 were successfully recertified to maintain their certification for another five years, with no conditions and a perfect Principle 2, which is Minimising Environmental Impact, score.



Rhian Jardine, Head of Development Planning and Marine at Natural Resources Wales, said: “The whole of Natural Resources Wales, 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. 

The cockle beds enable more than just a thriving, historic fishing community. They support an internationally important over-wintering site for wildfowl and wading birds, earning the status of a Special Protection Area (SPA) (EC Birds Directive), Special Area of Conservation (Habitats Directive) and Ramsar site.

Despite there being no conditions against the fishery operating in these areas, the 2013 Stillman Bird Food model was designed to support allocation of TAC in cockle fisheries. It utilises physiological requirements of the overwintering birds to estimate the number of cockles required to maintain this population over winter.

You can read more about the MSC UK awards here.

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