FISHERMEN have been warned against cockle picking and bait digging in mud flats around a Sussex river or face prosecution.

Officers were called to the mud flats around the River Adur in Shoreham on June 17 after receiving a call regarding the practices.

Police spoke to a group of men who said they were not aware that the practice is illegal in the area - as it is a site of specific scientific interest and should not be disturbed.

Authorities also warned that shellfish gathered from some areas of the site are unlikely to be fit for human consumption, due to high levels of contaminants in the water, such as E.coli.

A spokesman for Adur and Worthing Police said: “Consumption can lead to possible serious illness and it is an offence to remove any shellfish for the purpose of commercial supply or sale.”

Anyone who witnesses cockle picking on the River Adur is urged to report it to the public health and regulation office at Adur and Worthing Council.