In 2018, the Poole Harbour clam and cockle fishery was the first fishery in Dorset to receive MSC certification. Cockle fishing has taken place in Poole since the 1900s. However, the Manila or Japanese carpet shell clam was introduced to Poole Harbour in 1988, initially for aquaculture, and has since become naturalised without causing damage to native species. Since 1994 there has been a licensed fishery for the clams and today the fishery is managed under a permit scheme for both clams and cockles. The fishery provides income for 45 permits holders in Poole Harbour. Both fisheries are managed by the Southern Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority (IFCA).
The fishery built positive relationships with multiple stakeholders on its journey to certification, including the Poole and District Fishermen's Association and Dorset Wildlife Trust. The trust recognised that the fishery’s programme of improvements leading up to certification improved dialogue between the fishery and conservationists, encouraged the sharing of marine sightings data, and resulted in improved working relations.
The majority of the certified clam and cockle being harvested is retained in the UK, however some is exported to markets in France and Spain.
In 2020, Waitrose became the first major UK supermarket chain to sell MSC certified British clams, which are now on sale at counters across 150 of its stores, with sustainable British cockles due to enter its counters later.
SEE THE FISHERS IN ACTION
HARVESTING CLAMS & COCKLES
The fishery uses a mechanised 'pump scoop' dredge, a special form of dredge. This uses water jets to help the movement of clams and cockles into the dredge basket and wash through sediment but does not actively dislodge the shellfish from the sea bed. To learn more about dredges more generally, click the image below.
“The Poole Harbour clam and cockle fishery is one of the most extraordinary in the U.K., with only a handful of small boats being seasonally allowed to catch clams and cockles, supporting a sustainable stock. The experience of eating them is incredible, the juices are salty and sweet and the texture is wonderfully firm.”
Mitch Tonks, award-winning chef, restaurateur and food writer
To find out more about this fishery, or to TRY a clam recipe, check out theSE resources
BUY MSC CERTIFIED CLAMS & COCKLES
MSC labelled cockles are sold in the United Kingdom, the United States and across northern Europe. In the UK, MSC certified Poole Harbour shellfish can be bought at Waitrose fish counters.
CONTACT THE FISHERY
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