Shellfish research

The North East Kent European marine site (NEKEMS) has numerous nature conservation designations and bylaws (from different organisations) relating to shellfish harvesting - but the authorities still receive reports of concern about the potential to ‘over-collect’ shore life along the coast.

Thanet’s chalk foreshore is open to the general public and provides a hard substrate - suitably dominated in some areas by periwinkles & mussels; whilst Canterbury’s coast is mainly sediments - with cockles; manila clams and oysters.

Concerns were highlighted during the original Management Scheme workshops in the 1990s, and have arisen from time to time ever since. More recent public complaints relate to why collectors could not be stopped - however, most of these reports and incidents tend to start from the basis that it is “assumed” to be a problem, and may arise because it is so publicly visible. See Natural England Research Report below*.

The complexity of different laws involved has made it a difficult issue to resolve quickly.  It is hoped that the issue will gradually be tackled within the new conservation remit of local IFCAs (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Agency) that was established in 2011, and proposed actions being developed for the new Management Scheme 2013-18.     

Notes from multi-agency meetings for NEKEMS in September 2009 & September 2010. The next multi-agency working group meeting is proposed for 2013/14.

Previous related studies:

*The sustainability of shellfish harvesting and its effects on the reef habitats within the Northeast Kent European Marine Sites (inter-tidal) 29/6/2010  (Natural England)


NEW from 2019:

Online Reporting of Harvesting & Collecting on the NE Kent Coast (2019)

Link above - or copy & paste from:

Please use this link to report:

- FIXED NETS (on the shore),
- FORAGING (eg plants, or seaweed)

that you have seen taking place around the Thanet Coast (NEKMPA).

There has been concern about ‘over-collecting’, 'commercial collecting' and 'public consumption' of shore life along the coast, and a need for more information on the extent of collecting - hence this new reporting mechanism.  Anyone can send in the report which will be shared with the main authorities with duties to manage shellfisheries, fixed nets or the coastline - within the NE Kent Marine Protected Area (NEKMPA) and its Management Group & Advisory Group.

Thanet Coast (NEKMPA)

c/o Thanet District Council,

PO Box 9, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent CT9 1XZ
United Kingdom



Tony Child

Thanet Coast (NE Kent Marine Protected Area) Officer

Telephone: +44 (0) 1843 577672

(based in Manston Road Depot)