Heysham mussel beds to reopen

Mussel pickers at Sandylands in 2013.
Mussel pickers at Sandylands in 2013.

Mussel beds at Sandylands will reopen on Monday (August 7).

Fishermen are expected to descend on the Battery car park for the start of the mussel fishing season from early on Monday morning.

The beds will reopen to fishing permit holders at 4.35am.

Predicted low tide times for Morecambe on Monday are 6.34am and 6.47pm with high tide at 12.07pm.

Mussel fishermen can continue to use the Battery car park this year to access the bay, Lancaster City Council has announced.

There was an outcry from Sandylands residents in 2015 after access for mussel fishing vehicles changed to a slipway off Oakley Road.

They complained the high number of vehicles going up and down the residential street was dangerous and noisy.

“Last year’s arrangements worked well so we’ve decided to continue them, but we will be closely monitoring the situation,” said Coun Brendan Hughes from Lancaster City Council.

“The collecting of seed mussels at this time of year isn’t entirely ideal, but the fishermen have a common law right to access the bay to make their living.

“The council’s role is to try and strike a balance between their requirements and those of residents and visitors.”

Monitoring of the beds and their re-opening is a matter for the North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) but access to the slipways and beach is the responsibility of Lancaster City Council.

Permits given to fishermen stipulate that mussels shall only be gathered by hand or with a rake, fishing shall take place only from Monday to Friday inclusive during daylight hours (defined as one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset) and fishermen must take care to avoid live colonies of protected species the Honeycomb Worm when fishing near Heysham Flat Skear.

Damaging them could lead to a fine of up to £20,000, revoking of authorisations and closure of the fishery.