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You need a licence from Natural Resources Wales if you dredge, fish for or take cockles within the Dee Estuary.

The Dee Estuary is on the border between north Wales and north west England.

A total of 53 licences are available each year. More temporary licences can be issued if the cockle stock levels are high enough.

Any additional licences will be issued to people on a waiting list.


You must agree not to:

  • remove culch or other material used for the reception of spat (ie very young cockles) without written permission
  • fish for cockles from a closed bed unless you have been given written consent
  • introduce cockles into the estuary

You must be able to produce a copy of your licence on request. You must not fish for or remove cockles until you have found a copy of the licence.

You can apply for a second authorised person to fish for cockles on your licence. An authorised person can’t fish for cockles at the same time as the licence holder.

You don’t need a licence to fish for cockles if you collect up to 5 kg per day by hand for your own consumption.

How to apply

You must contact Natural Resources Wales.

Natural Resources Wales
0300 065 3000
Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

Licences last for a maximum of 1 year. You’ll have to pay a £992 fee (known as a ‘toll’) when you apply.

Fines and penalties

You can be fined up to £5,000 if you dredge, fish for or take cockles without a licence.