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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK
Toxin find halts cockle fishing
Cockles generic
More than 700 people applied for licences to pick the shellfish
Cockle fishing on the Dee Estuary in north east Wales has been stopped just a week after it resumed following a 12 month ban.

The river beds were closed by Flintshire County Council after cockles from the Dee tested positive for Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP).

Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning
A gastrointestinal illness
Symptoms - diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea
First case - Netherlands 1960s
No fatal cases reported
Complete recovery within three days
In 1981 there were over 5000 cases of DSP reported in Spain

The tests were carried out on Sunday on cockles taken from the Salisbury bank on the Welsh side of the estuary near Mostyn.

DSP is a naturally occurring toxin normally produced by algal blooms but if it is eaten by humans it can cause nausea and vomiting.

Colin MacDonald owns a cockle production company in Holywell, Flintshire.

Expensive industry

He said the closure will have a devastating effect on the industry: "For this local area it is an absolute disaster.

"The fishermen have invested a lot of money into cockling on the Dee Estuary, they bought new boats and equipment and now they can't use them."

The last time cockling was allowed on the Dee was in 1997.

Historically cockle fishing on the Dee was a multimillion pounds industry but over-fishing led to a decline in stocks and the beds were closed in 1998.


We took about 250,000 worth of cockles in two days, you're talking a lot of money

Colin MacDonald

More than 700 people applied for licences to pick the shellfish earlier this month.

The Environment Agency allowed cockling on two beds - the Salisbury bank which is off the Welsh coast and the West Kirby bank on the English side of the estuary.

Mr MacDonald said cockling is an expensive industry.

"We basically had two days of cockling from 1 October but there are an abundance of cockles here.

"We took about 250,000 worth of cockles in two days, you're talking a lot of money.

"I had a lot of people fishing for me and they brought in about 220 tonnes of the shellfish."

A spokesman for Flintshire council said the authority had no alternative but to call a halt to the fishing after the positive test result.

Another sample will be taken as soon as practically possible.

The authority will be able to re-open the beds once there have been two negative samples seven days a part.


More from north east Wales
See also:

13 Jun 02 | Wales
14 Aug 01 | Wales
17 May 02 | Wales
02 Aug 02 | Wales
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