Damaged Scottish reef gets permanent protection

20/05/2019 0 By wildfeed
By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 20 May 2019

23 sq km of Loch Carron on Scotland’s north west coast has been granted permanent protection and is now officially a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

Flameshell exposed on top of Loch Carron's seabed
© Graham Saunders/SNH

This must be a springboard to urgently needed improvements to fisheries management and protection of all Scotland’s inshore waters

Calum Duncan,
MCS Head of Conservation, Scotland

The site, home to around 250 million flameshells- brightly coloured molluscs that form an intricate habitat for other marine life – was damaged in 2017 by a scallop dredging incident. Thought to be the world’s biggest flameshell bed, it’s MPA status came into force Sunday 19th May.

Local recreational divers, some Seasearch-trained, had recorded the original damage following co-ordination by locally-resident independent marine biologist, Sue Scott. Seasearch is the MCS volunteer diver project.

Calum Duncan, MCS Head of Conservation in Scotland, says he’s delighted with the announcement: “It’s fantastic news that the world-record flameshell beds and recently confirmed maerl beds of Loch Carron will be permanently protected, allowing recovery from the scallop dredge damage of 2017. The rapid response by the Scottish Government at the time is to be commended, but we are most grateful to the local divers who swiftly organised to return video, photographic and, in the form of Seasearch records, scientific evidence of the dredge-tracks through the flameshell beds.”

The Loch Carron MPA means fishermen operating trawlers or dredging boats will not be able to fish. Since May 2017 the site was has been designated as an “emergency marine protected area” following confirmation of the damage.

“This must be a springboard to urgently needed improvements to fisheries management and protection of all Scotland’s inshore waters underscored by the recent climate change emergency announcement and reports of nature collapse and Scotland and UK failing to meet targets for seabed protection,” said Calum Duncan.

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