Cockle fisheries reopen in Dundalk after Natura 2000

BIM assisted with the reopening of the cockle fisheries in Dundalk Bay in 2009 after it was designated a Natura 2000 site.

Project aim

Reopening the Dundalk Bay fisheries

Our aim was to implement a management plan for the Dundalk Bay cockle fisheries to allow them to reopen.

The cockle fishery in Dundalk Bay closed in 2007 by local agreement, after the bay was given Natura 2000 status, designating it a natural heritage site.

Our methods

Steps taken to meet Natura 2000 criteria

You can get an understanding of the what it takes to meet Natura 2000 requirements by reading our summary of the steps taken in the Dundalk cockle fisheries project.

  1. First, a cockle biomass survey was carried out, revealing that there was fishable stock in Dundalk Bay.
  2. The Marine Institute (MI) conducted an ‘appropriate assessment’ of the potential impact of the fishery on the Dundalk Bay site.
  3. The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (DAFF) came up with a plan to address a possible influx of boats putting pressure on the stock. GPS tracking devices were used to ensure vessels were only fishing in the areas permitted under the plan. BIM sourced a suitable tracking system for the vessels and a provider to supply, install and support the system. When the fishery opened, all vessels had been fitted with GPS tracking devices.
  4. Hand gatherers were also regulated with the introduction of a new permit system.
  5. Having identified the eligible fishing parties, BIM and the Local Advisory Committee (LAC) developed a Fisheries Natura Plan (FNP) setting out the conditions of the fishery. The FNP was sent to statutory consulates and made known to the public through advertisements in national press, with documents posted on
  6. Once public consultations concluded, a number of industry and government bodies—together called the Inshore Fisheries Technical Advisory Committee (IFTAC)—considered the FNP, the appropriate assessment and other submissions.

A Fisheries Natura Declaration (FND) reopened the fishery on September 30th 2009

Eligible vessels and prospective hand gatherers sought permits to begin fishing the bay.

Seeing the benefits

The fisheries flourish

The GPS tracking devices proved extremely effective. Additionally, daily Fishing Activity Records submitted to and collated by BIM, have allowed the total catch and catch rates of the fishery to be monitored in real time.

This was the first time the process had been used for such a fishery and made the task all the more challenging but results were positive, with fishermen manning 32 vessels and landing 108 tonnes of cockles in Dundalk Bay in 2009.