National Assembly for Wales

WAQ77391 (e) Tabled on 08/11/2018

Will the Cabinet Secretary provide an update on the proposed independent research initiatives in cockles in the Burry Inlet which were at application or final funding bid stage in March 2017?

Answered by Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Answered on 20/11/2018

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has been proactive in promoting and maintaining an overview of the latest scientific research on cockle health.

NRW strongly recommended any further research should be on a wider international collaborative basis as the challenges faced by climate change, parasite distribution, ocean current circulation and cockle spat migration do not recognise international borders. 

Two independent European Union (EU) INTERREG funded research projects succeeded in their funding bids and were initiated in 2017.

Both EU funded projects are actively focussed on cockle health in Welsh fisheries including the Burry Inlet, and, either focus specifically on cockles or consider cockles as part of ecosystem and oceanographic investigations linked to climate change challenges.

The two principle areas of research are as follows

  • The European Union Regional Development funded INTERREG Atlantic Area “COCKLES” (Co-Operation for Restoring Cockle Shellfisheries and its Ecosystem-Service in  the Atlantic Area)  https://cockles-project.eu/index.php/ project is a three year, €3.6 million investigation aiming to restore and increase cockle production and enhance their ecosystem services. Five EU member states, over 20 partner and associate partner organisations are working collaboratively on cockle health, reproduction, fisheries management and restoration.

 

  • The “Bluefishhttp://www.bluefishproject.com/ is an Ireland Wales Territorial Co-operation for the Irish and Celtic Sea, focusing on cross border collaboration, climate change and community engagement. The project has been awarded €5.5 million over 4 years by the Ireland, Wales EU programme. The consortium led by Bangor University bringing together Aberystwyth and Swansea Universities in Wales, the Marine Institute, Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the University College of Cork in Ireland.

Locally focused investigations were also proposed, including a Cockle Genetics PhD which attracted research funding with local industry support. This work is supervised by Aberystwyth University. 

 

A proposal bid for historical cockle survey review and trend analysis was unsuccessful, however, this may be resubmitted in the future. Improved hydrodynamic modelling of the Burry Inlet and geomorphological investigations are at various stages of development and remain under review for further development and/or funding opportunities.

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