Will the Cabinet Secretary provide an update on Natural Resources Wales’ bid to become a partner of the INTERREG Atlantic Area Cockles research proposal?
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) were proactive in campaigning for further collaborative research into cockle health and are currently one of ten associate partners of the “COCKLES” project from various NGO’s and institutions from around Europe.
In undertaking this role, NRW have provided logistical support to Bangor University (the UK lead partner) in collecting and transporting live and pre-prepared samples of cockles during 2018.
Samples have been gathered from two UK sites, both in Wales (the Burry Inlet and the Dee) for onward transportation to research labs around Europe for genetics analysis, histology and pathology.
Additionally, sediment samples were gathered for analysis at Bordeaux University, plans are in place for a programme of water sampling to enhance understanding of primary food production and trophic cascades impacting on cockles.
NRW have supported stakeholder engagement of the project by highlighting aims and objectives with interest groups. Licence holders are collating further questions from industry for the project team to address as the project evolves.
NRW are also providing evidence to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, who are leading development and quantification of Ecosystem Services and societal benefits of cockles. NRW have recently re-extended an invitation to a representative of Burry Inlet licence-holders to assist the sampling programme and join NRW and Bangor university staff during sample preparation work.