Cocklers urged to stay safe this time

BIG BUSINESS: Cocklers queue back on to Seafield Road in Lytham to get to the re-opened cockling beds
BIG BUSINESS: Cocklers queue back on to Seafield Road in Lytham to get to the re-opened cockling beds
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LIFESAVERS today warned fishermen to think about their actions as a controversial cockling patch was re-opened.

Stringent measures to keep the Lytham beds safe have been introduced after they were closed down to amateur fisherman who were frequently risking their lives with inadequate equipment.

Only commercial fishermen with the correct licenses and safety checks can now access the site to avoid a repeat of the manic scenes throughout October and November last year when the RNLI were called out 26 times.

Crews were called out more than twice a day at the height of the problems and chiefs are warning recreational fishermen to stay away.

Chris Turner, operations manager for HM Coastguard on the Fylde coast, said: “The key message we want to get across is this is not a public fishery.

“There is a significant presence of various agencies down there and a lot of enforcement to make sure the beds are being accessed correctly.

“Hopefully with the regulations and enforcement in place we can make them safer cockle beds this time.”

The RNLI received the staggering number of calls the last time the beds were open, endangering both the fishermen and those attempting to rescue them.

Mr Turner added: “Fishermen should keep an eye on the weather and if there’s anything stronger than a force four or five wind, they shouldn’t be going out.

“The safety equipment they should all carry are lifejackets, have ways of making a distress signal, a radio, a mobile phone as back-up and they must contact the coastguard if they get into difficulty.”

HM Coastguard says the public also have a role to play in saving lives if they spot dangerous activity close to the cockle beds.

Volunteer Steven Gratrix, of Lytham Coastguard, added: “If a member of the public sees anyone in difficulty they should call 999.”

The Gazette launched its Think Sea Safety campaign following the death of David Sagar, 17, of Lewtas Street, Blackpool, who died when he fell from the sea wall opposite Gynn Square, and the Coastguard wants people to think about their actions when close to dangerous drops.

Mr Gratrix added: “Our main message is to stay away from tombstoning where people jump from a height into the sea.

“We get a lot of thrillseekers who don’t know how deep the water is and shatter their legs when they hit rocks.

“People should also never drink alcohol and go swimming.”