The report is based on the Solway Cockle Fishery Management Study that took place in 2013-2014, an innovative initiative to test a new approach to cockle fishery management.
The management study was able to develop and test a range of harvesting controls, develop a training scheme which improved health and safety awareness, test a new method of end- product analysis on seafood entering the food chain and raise awareness within local communities and conservation organisations of the potential for a low-impact sustainable fisheries model.
The study found that the management approach, which used a single distribution centre, offered a number of benefits for improving compliance and providing the opportunity for full product traceability.
However, disappointing harvest weights meant that the study was unable to test the full range of management approaches to the harvest of a commercial volume of cockles over a sustained period of time.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead said: “Marine Scotland has been working with the local community and agencies to achieve a sustainable long-term cockle fishery which delivers significant economic benefits to the wider local community. Today’s report provides a useful body of evidence which will support the continued development of sustainable management for this fishery. To build on this evidence we plan to conduct further a further scientific study later this year and will soon be seeking partners to assist us to gather the required data. This will involve some further fishing opportunities if science supports that.
“Our overarching aim remains a fishery in the Solway that is safe, sustainable and offers local benefits for years to come and we are considering the management regime that would be required to support a safe and sustainable cockle fishery.”