Responding to reports last month of damage to flameshell beds in Loch Carron in north-west Scotland caused by scallop-dredging, the Scottish Government has announced a new Marine Protected Area.
The loch is associated with rich but fragile marine wildlife including flameshell, maerl and horsemussel beds, says the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which put the case for protecting part of the loch in 2013, although its proposal was not taken up at the time.
There is however a policy requirement in Scotland’s National Marine Plan that such places deserve protection from potentially harmful activity whether in designated protected areas or not, says the MCS.
“We are hopeful that there is sufficient healthy reef left to return Loch Carron to its natural state, given time,“ said Calum Duncan, MCS Head of Conservation Scotland.
“The decision shows how crucial the efforts of dedicated divers rapidly recording video footage and submitting Seasearch records shortly after the event were.
“It is therefore good to see the rapid response from Scottish Natural Heritage and Marine Scotland Science to the harm done to Loch Carron, corroborating the citizen science evidence.”
The MCS says it has long called for effective management of inshore fisheries, and particularly scallop-dredging, in Scottish waters, and has welcomed the government’s declared intention to start identifying other areas for protection immediately.
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