Cockle Stock Assessment

To assess the potential of cockle grounds in the intertidal areas around North Ford in North Uist and South Ford in South Uist , Luskentyre in Harris and Traigh Mhor, Barra with a view to supporting, a sustainable, local, cockle fishery.


  • To conduct stock assessments of cockle grounds at 4 previously visited sites in North Uist, South Uist, Harris and Barra.
  • To collect data on abundance and age (of cockles) with calculated variance and standard error included.
  • To collect data on biomass of cockles by age group and for all ages.
  • To collect data that will allow estimates of biomass at mm size intervals from 20-35mm and 35>.
  • To produce a report for OHRIFG that will present estimates for abundance, and biomass by age group and by length. The report will contain estimates for each of the 4 survey site locations.

The Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust tendered successfully to undertake the work and local FLAG funding was also secured.

The surveys commenced at the first spring tides of 2019 with the report expected to be presented to the OHRIFG by the end of January 2020. In the event bad weather and COVID have significantly delayed the work and the production of the report which has only (03 02 21) recently been submitted.

Good market demand exists for hand gathered cockles and it’s anticipated that a well -managed, sustainable cockle fishery could provide good returns to local communities, in close proximity, to the above beaches.

The OHRIFG has discussed future management of the local hand gathered cockle fishery and depending on the results of the forthcoming survey has suggested the following management measures.

  • Harvest ration of 20% of cockles larger than 30mm
  • Cockle harvesting to be prohibited between 1800 Friday and 0600 Monday
  • Cockle harvesting to be prohibited each day on all beaches between 1800 and 0600
  • IT systems in Marine Scotland to be enhanced to allow entry for cockle landings
  • Investigate how above management measures can be accommodated within legislation, as current cockle legislation prohibits the use of mechanical harvesting and introduced a MLS of 30mm for cockles harvested from beaches in the Outer Hebrides

The results will be shared with members of the Cockle Sub Group in the first instance and with interested parties in Barra, Uist and Harris. This is presently being arranged.


Our Aim

The Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups (RIFGs) aim to improve the management of inshore fisheries in the 0-6 nautical mile zone of Scottish waters, and to give commercial inshore fishermen a strong voice in wider marine management developments.

Scottish Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups