As the tide retreated we could see a few people collecting cockles at the water’s edge. I pointed them out to our Italian AFS exchange student, commenting that it is generally a summertime activity. It was only 12c yesterday, not a day I wanted to step into the water even with protective rubber boots. She, however, seemed excited by the idea, so we added a few layers and headed down to Okoromai Bay. Being too cold for me, I opted to photograph from shore as they collected cockles.
What is a Cockle?
A small, edible, saltwater clam, a burrowing marine bivalve mollusc with a strong ribbed shell.
- Okoromai Bay is one of three major bays at Shakespear Park. Located at the end of Whangaparaoa Peninsula, it is about 50 km from Auckland city centre in New Zealand. It is one of only a handful of Auckland bays that still allow the collection of cockles.
- The best spot to find cockles is at the water’s edge at low tide, just below the surface. Stick your hands in the soft sand slowly, as there may also be jagged, sharp oyster shells.
- Cockles are great on the BBQ but even better boiled. Remember to rinse them well before you cook them. They open when they are ready to eat. Never eat cockles that don’t open on their own.
- As with most fishing in New Zealand, there are strict limits as to the numbers collected. At Okoromai Bay the limit is 50 cockles per gatherer per day. For our group of three that translated to a maximum of 100, as I was not gathering.
- The limits are strictly enforced, the penalties for violation are huge. According to this article in the New Zealand Herald “Anyone who is caught with three times their daily limit, we seize all fishing equipment including vehicles, boats, dive gear, etcetera.” The Ministry of Primary Industries is out patrolling often enough that most violators get caught.
- The limits are put in place to protect the shellfish stocks.
- Want more? Check out: Clams: How to Find, Catch and Cook Them.
Have you ever collected cockles or any clams? Would you try it in the winter?
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