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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 15:40 GMT
Cocklers still 'risk' death sands
Cockling on Morecambe Bay
Half of the Morecambe lifeboat's call outs since the tragedy have been cockling related
People are still risking their lives at the place where up to 23 cockle pickers perished, it is claimed.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) said on Friday half its 100 call outs in Morecambe Bay since the 2004 tragedy were cockling related.

A gangmaster was convicted on Friday of the manslaughter of 21 cocklers who died when trapped by rising tides.

Michael Guy said the local lifeboat team hoped they would never have such a distressing tragedy again.

'Risks ignored'

"Unfortunately though there are no guarantees that such a tragedy will never happen again," said Mr Guy, RNLI Operations Manager, Morecambe.

"Despite the huge publicity surrounding both the incident and the trial, people are still risking their lives by venturing out into Morecambe Bay without checking tide times and weather conditions or seeking advice about where it is safe to go."

Bill Callaghan of the Health and Safety Commission said a Health and Safety Executive report on whether migrant workers face greater risks would be out later this year.

He said the bay remained hazardous but said: "Those who follow the guidelines should be able to work without serious risk."

However, the leader of Lancaster City Council called for a national review of marine regulations following the trial.

National review

Councillor Ian Barker said the regulations surrounding cockling were inadequate as they did not cover the competence of people to work in the bay's treacherous conditions.

"It is absurd that the safety of people fishing commercially from boats is strongly regulated, but there is very little in place to protect people using tractors and trailers or quad bikes," he said.

Liverpool-based Lin Liang Ren, originally from China, who denied responsibility for the cocklers' deaths was convicted of the manslaughter of 21 cocklers.

His girlfriend and cousin were convicted of breaching immigration laws.

Twenty-three cocklers drowned in the bay on 5 February 2004, but the bodies of two have never been recovered.

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