Abstract Marine bivalves provide an important seafood resource, but conflicts between bivalve fisheries and conservation goals may arise. A scientific debate about cockle dredging in the Dutch Wadden Sea resulted in an apparent consensus among scientists of a severe and long‐lasting impact of the mechanical fisheries, and the fisheries were banned. Specifically, two highly cited papers concluded that the fisheries caused a strong reduction in bivalve recruitment for a period of 8 years and that the fisheries led to the loss of red knots from the Dutch Wadden Sea and a decline of the European wintering population. Here, we show that these papers had severe shortcomings in terms of data selection and data analysis and we challenge their conclusions.

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