Major cockle picking operation launched in early hours in Over Wyre

The noticeboard at Preesall and Pilling Sands
The noticeboard at Preesall and Pilling Sands

Pilling Sands in Over Wyre was the scene of a major operation targeting illegal cockle pickers in the early hours of this morning.

The cockle beds there are currently closed to allow for the shellfish population to recover, and “removing, taking, or disturbing” them is currently outlawed under a fishery management byelaw.

Officers from the North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA), and Wyre Police, were at the sands at around 2am.

Coastguard rescuers from Knott End and Fleetwood were also there, while a police helicopter used thermal imaging cameras to search the area.

Fluke Hall Lane, close to the access ramp for the sands, was left covered with crushed cockles, and the large scale operation was seen by several passers-by.

A NWIFCA spokesman said officers allegedly “encountered two persons illegally fishing for cockles” during the “early hours”, and added: “The investigation is currently ongoing and we cannot comment further at this time.”

Even when the cockle bed is open, a valid permit must be obtained, he added.