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Shellfish harvesting

Live bivalve molluscs/live shellfish

Wyre Council has responsibility for the cockle bed (Cerastoderma edule), located at Pilling Sands East (B066W) Grid Reference SD41835241. Wyre Council works with other agencies and local authorities as part of the North West Shellfish Liaison Group (NWSLG), to ensure that shellfish throughout the region can be harvested efficiently and in accordance with relevant legislation and statutory guidance.

Our responsibilities predominantly relate to classification and routine sampling of the beds, as well as the issue and control of registration documents to registered gatherers.

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

Registration documents

When any shellfish bed within the borough is open, registration documents can be obtained from the council. Requests must be submitted by emailing:
For trade information with respect to the legal requirements surrounding use of registration documents and movement of shellfish please use the following documents:

Pilling Sands East (B066W) grid reference SD41835241

This bed is currently open for cockle fishing. Find out more from North West Inshore Fishery and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA)

This bed is classified as a Seasonal Category B bed, subject to satisfactory sampling results usually classified as a B between 1 November - 31 May, reverting to class C all other times.

However, samples that failed to meet sampling requirements in October resulted in Pilling Sands East Cockle bed remaining a Class C from the 1 November. A recent sample has now met sampling requirements which allows Pilling Sands East (B066W) grid reference SD41835241 to transition from a class C to Class B status. Subject to continuing satisfactory sampling results, Pilling Sands East Cockle bed will be Class B from 10 November 2020 until 31 May 2021 when it will revert to Class C.

Should you have any queries regarding this matter, please email the Wyre Council's Commercial Safety Team at


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

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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