The Wildlife (NI) Order 1985 in Northern Ireland allowed the Department of Environment Northern Ireland to regulate periwinkle harvesting to be regulated, but up until 2007 the Department had refused to do.

These creatures form an important part of the food chain for wildlife in coastal areas and the periwinkles are not only being harvested. Thanks to unregulated gangs of migrants driven by gang masters paying pitiful wages all ages of mollusc were being taken breaking the breeding cycle. Even the stones under which they grow were being left overturned, something that local collectors would not do. This resulted in the developing periwinkles drying out and die. This interrupts the natural life-cycle of these sea creatures and diminishes the chances of the population recovering.

In 2007, 8 and 9 Lecale Conservation campaigned for the Department to bring forward regulation which would allow for the fishery to be managed locally in a sustainable manner. The Department did bring forward regulations to the Strangford Lough and Lecale Coast Management Committee where they found widespread support – but they were unilaterally blocked by officials from the Department of Agriculture.

Lecale Conservation continue to campaign for these common-sense proposals to be adopted.

Picture shows Lecale Members Bill Corry and Cadogan Enright at Rossglass beach