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Shellfish harvesting

Shellfish beds at Knott Spit (Wyre Approaches, Knott Spit, RMP B066Z, SD 3419 4862  ) and Sea Centre South (Wyre Estuary, Sea Centre South, RMP B066Y, SD 3450 4722) in Knott End are closed as a result of a pollution incident that has affected the area. We will be monitoring the situation and will notify you of any further developments.

Please note: Pilling cockle fisheries closed season runs from 1 May until 31 August 2017. The closed season is enforced by North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.

There are a number of shellfish production areas within Wyre Council’s boundaries, which include both cockles (Cerastoderma edule) and mussels (Mytilus spp).

Although the collecting of shellfish for personal consumption is unregulated, the commercial harvesting of shellfish is regulated and Wyre Council is responsible for local regulation under regulation EC 854/2004.

Controls on harvesting shellfish

Commercial gatherers may only harvest live bivalve molluscs from areas with fixed locations and boundaries that the competent authority has classified which can be found on the classification zone maps. The commercial gathering of shellfish for sale is covered by regulation EC 853/2004

Pilling sands east cockle fishery November 2016 

North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) have recommended that the Pilling Sands East Cockle Bed in Morecambe Bay be opened for limited fishing to Byelaw 3 permit under a specific authorisation from 7 November 2016.

For trade information with respect to the legal requirements surrounding use of registration documents and movement of shellfish please use the following documents

To obtain registration documents please contact Wyre Council Food Safety section on 01253 891000 or email

Wyre Council is the enforcement authority for the areas of Morecambe Bay East and the Lune.

Shellfish filter feed, they can concentrate pathogenic bacteria and toxins from the water in their flesh. If eaten untreated this may cause gastrointestinal illness in consumers.

Bacteriological quality

Wyre Council is required to undertake sampling of shellfish from designated production areas. Samples are sent for microbiological analysis and shellfish beds are then given a classification based upon the bacteriological quality of the flesh.


The classification of a shellfish bed determines what level of treatment must be applied to the shellfish before they are safe to eat:

Class A: Molluscs can be harvested for direct human consumption.

Class B: Molluscs can go for human consumption after purification in an approved plant or after relaying in an approved relaying area or after an EC approved heat treatment process.

Class C: Molluscs can go for human consumption only after relaying for at least two months in an approved relaying area, whether or not combined with purification, or after an EC approved heat treatment process.

Prohibited: Molluscs must not go for human consumption.

Removal of shellfish from production areas

All shellfish removed for human consumption must be accompanied by a shellfish registration document. Shellfish registration documents can be obtained from the Wyre Council food safety section.

Closing shellfish beds

Local authorities are required to close shellfish beds (using closure notices) to harvesting when unusually high levels of bacteria are found in samples.

The main aim of such closures is to safeguard public health, as the treatment that shellfish would normally undergo may be insufficient to get rid of all the bacteria.

Removing shellfish from a closed area is a legal offence.

Re-opening shellfish beds

When the beds are closed, the local authority tests the beds on a weekly basis. The closure notices remain in place until two consecutive samples show that bacteriological quality has returned to normal levels for the production area.

Additional information

CEFAS - information about the policy for the monitoring and classification of shellfish harvesting

Trade Information Letter / Legal Requirements - trade information letter / legal requirements regarding shellfish harvesting

Annexe to Registration Document and guidance - registration forms to be completed by cockle gatherers showing names/addresses and amount of harvest and further information

Express Agreements - express agreement to gather shellfish on named beds

Contact us

If you have any questions relating to shellfish classification, production areas, registration documents or closure notices, please contact us:

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