Published: 14:22, 22 June 2020
| Updated: 10:14, 24 June 2020
The police and other authorities have been cracking down on illegal cockle-pickers.
Kent Police rural taskforce officers, Swale Borough Council and Inland Fisheries Conservation Authority (IFCA) recovered almost 100kg of shellfish in one day from groups collecting large quantities from Sheppey beaches.
Steve Brooker, 64, who has a caravan in Leysdown, said: "I am really concerned. These people are raping our beaches of cockles, small crabs and oysters. It is getting out of hand."
The price of cockles - the Cockney favourite - is around £13.95 per kg.
One estimate on social media is that if each bucket holds 10kg and a car can hold 10 buckets, a group with 10 vehicles can make £13,950 a day. Or £97,650 for a seven-day week.
But according to the IFCA, a person without a licence or permit should only collect a small quantity of cockles for their own consumption - less than five litres in a 24-hour period.
To stop those breaking the rules, the authorities have been targeting known shellfish spots, including Shellness, Leysdown, Warden Bay, Minster, Sheerness, Ridham Dock and Queenborough.
Of the 100kg of shellfish recovered on Friday, June 19, most of them were pacific oysters.
Search operations will continue to be carried out throughout the season.
If you suspect anyone of illegal shellfish collection, call Kent Police on 101 or the IFCA on 01843 585310.