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Harvesting Shellfish in Swale

Commercial harvesting

To harvest shellfish in Swale for commercial gain you’ll need:

  • a registration document from us to harvest shellfish in Swale, including mussels, oysters, cockles, clams and periwinkles
  • to observe the Kent and Essex Inland Fisheries and Conservation Authority (KEIFCA) byelaws for cockle fishing and minimum sizes when you’re harvesting

You’ll also need a cockle permit from the KEIFCA if you’re harvesting cockles.

Supplying workers

If you are supplying workers to gather shellfish, you’ll also need a Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) licence.


You may need to pay a fee for a:

There is no fee to apply for a registration document.

How to harvest

Each batch of shellfish must be accompanied by a registration document, from where it’s harvested to its final destination.

You must:

  • return Manila clams to their natural environment if their shells aren’t at least 35mm in size at the widest part
  • return mussels to their natural environment if their shells aren’t at least 18mm thick at the thinnest part
  • not harvest periwinkles using tools
  • not harvest shellfish in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

If you harvest shellfish in an SSSI, you may be committing an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. For more information, visit Natural England’s website.

You can download a map of the SSSIs in Swale (JPG image 550kb).

Preparing shellfish to eat

All live bivalve molluscs (mussels, clams, cockles, and oysters) harvested in Swale for commercial use must undergo further processing to ensure that they are safe to eat. For more information about classified shellfish harvesting areas, visit the Food Standards Agency website.

Any commercial gathering of shellfish must comply with food hygiene regulations. If you do not comply with these regulations, it is a criminal offence and you could receive an unlimited fine and/or go to prison for up to two years.

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