The cockles industry on the brink? Life in an ancient trade battling a mysterious crop killer

Cockle gatherers in the the Burry Inlet have reported a significant die-off of the shellfish every year in July since 2005.
“The industry is not going to be here in 10 years’ time,” he said.
“This estuary has produced cockles throughout time, but something has changed.
The menfolk went underground to fetch coal, the womenfolk went out to get cockles.” Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which has regulated the Burry Inlet cockle fishery since 2013, said it was sustainable as long as the number of licence holders did not exceed 36.
The report added that a Burry Inlet cockle fishery was marked in an Admiralty chart on Llanrhidian sands in 1862, and that some 250 women from Penclawdd gathered cockles at the start of the 20th Century.
Dr Longshaw said it was “highly likely” that the diseased cockles at the root of the problem may have come from Europe to be processed at the Burry Inlet, with the parasites washed into the estuary.
However, Mr Page said last year was better at the Burry Inlet.
“It was the first time in over 10 years that I worked for six months there,” he said.
“We want to play our part in helping to restore a sustainable cockle fishery in the estuary and will continue to support NRW’s ongoing work to manage the Burry Inlet shellfish waters.” Another cockle gatherer, Glyn Hyndman, 58, of Llanelli, said he had had to travel to Grimsby over the last decade for work.
“The industry is not sustainable,” he said.

Learn More