AN ENVIRONMENT Agency enforcement officer kept watch with powerful binoculars as three men raked for cockles on the Salisbury Bank off Mostyn Docks in the Dee Estuary.
But a court heard the beds were closed and it was illegal to take any cockles from the estuary during that period.
John Harvey, 24, of Trem y Gardden, Penycae, who owned the cabin boat used by the men, was fined £200 with £60 costs.
Co-defendants Christopher Owens, 21, of Nant Mawr Crescent, Buckley, and Scott Peter Petrie, 32, at the time of Nevin Road, Blacon but now of Chatsworth Road, Morecambe, both unemployed, were fined £100 with £60 costs.
Flintshire Magistrates Court heard how enforcement officer Keith Williams received information that three men were on their way to do some cockling despite the fact the bed was closed pending the introduction of a licensing system in order to regulate the cockle harvest.
He found a vantage point and watched the three men at work and officials with the police moved in at Greenfield Docks, where they seized two bags of cockles, two rakes and two wire mesh riddles.
When asked what he was going to do with the cockles, Owens replied 'eat them'.
The men claimed they did not appreciate they were doing anything wrong and had not realised the beds remained closed.
Harvey said they had not taken a great amount, had heard about Salisbury Bank and went to see how good it was, but agreed they should have checked the regulations first.
Petrie said that be believed it was possible to take cockles for personal consumption but he was told that was not possible when the beds were closed.