Police confirmed they received a report of a person cockle picking on the river in Shoreham on Saturday afternoon, however a spokesman said: “No offences appear to have been committed.”
The council has since warned of the potential health risks of consuming cockles from the River Adur.
A spokesman from Adur District Council said: “We strongly advise against anyone from gathering cockles from the banks of the River Adur in Shoreham.
“This area is not classified under food safety regulations for the harvesting of shellfish and as such may present a risk to public health if consumed.”
If is an offence to remove any shellfish for the purpose of commercial supply or sale, the spokesman added.
Anyone with information relating to harvesting is urged to contact the council at [email protected] or 01903 221064.
Sean Ashworth, deputy chief at Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) – which works to protect the marine environment and its legitimate sustainable fisheries – said: “Illegal harvesting of cockles in the Adur estuary has an impact on that environment and on legitimate cockle fisheries.
“As well as the environmental and fisheries impact, there is potential for those perpetrating this activity to be exploiting, as labour, unfortunate victims, and allowing unfit food to enter the human food chain.”
“Sussex IFCA, although not directly responsible for the laws being broken, works with all the relevant authorities to supply them with the evidence we have.”
Incidents can be reported to Sussex IFCA at [email protected] or 01273 454407.