Welsh Conservatives today discussed the long-term sustainability of the cockle industry with workers and third parties in Gower.
The latest in a long line of community engagement forums focused on the importance of the industry to local economies and increasing cockle mortality rates.
The Burry Estuary - between Gower and Carmarthenshire - is an internationally recognised area of conservation, where cockle beds are protected by EU shellfish regulations.
It is this area that formed the basis of the forum’s discussions – chaired by Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies and South Wales West Assembly Member Byron Davies.
Levels of cockle mortality are said to be so high that the cockle industry in the area now only provides workers with 12 weeks’ employment a year.
There have previously been calls for a public inquiry into the problem and for compensation to be paid to workers who are the victim of an industry in decline.
Representatives from Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Water were also present at today’s community engagement forum.
Issues raised also included the potential impact of sewage spills in the area and the huge increasing financial loss to local communities.
Byron Davies AM, said:
“Every pound lost to a cockle farmer is a pound lost to the local economy.
“Money is being lost hand over fist in this industry and it’s crucial that the Labour government prioritises its future.
“This engagement forum was an opportunity to bring together experts in this industry and the surrounding natural environment – and the issues raised will now be taken further.
“Cockle farming is a hugely important contributor to the local economy, particularly in the Burry Estuary.
“It’s clear that worsening mortality rates are having a profound impact on the area and its cockle farmers. More must be done by the Labour government to secure the industry’s long-term future.”
Welsh Conservative Leader, Andrew RT Davies AM, said:
“This is the latest in a long line of community engagement forums – debating important local issues and engaging third parties and local communities.
“Today’s forum has highlighted issues of huge significance in the Burry Estuary in particular – and it’s time those involved in this industry got answers from Welsh Labour ministers.
“Potential sewage spillages in particular require urgent investigation to determine their impact on cockle mortality rates.
“The Labour government must now engage with the cockle industry and work with farmers to help secure a viable and sustainable long-term future.”