Shellfish research

The North East Kent Marine Protected Area 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 from along the coast.

Thanet’s chalk foreshore is open to the general public and provides a hard substrate - 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 was hoped that the issue will gradually be tackled within the conservation remit of local IFCAs (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Agency) established in 2011, and proposed actions being developed for the new Management Scheme's action plan - but they are restricted to a couple of commercial species within their bylaws.

Notes from multi-agency meetings for NEKEMS in September 2009 & September 2010


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)


2020 has seen an escalation of collecting since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were relaxed:

Harvesting & Collecting on the NE Kent Coast

Use the link above to identify which authority to report to, and for advice on following the Thanet Coastal Code for shellfish & other marine life harvesting.   You can also copy & paste from:




Thanet Coastal Codes: including 'Shellfish harvesting & fixed netting'

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)