Published - 19/05/2017
New protection measures for Scottish Sea Loch announced
MCS says action for Loch Carron must be just the start of further protections
MCS was distraught to hear of the destruction caused by scallop dredging to flameshell beds in outer Loch Carron in late April. Famed for its rich marine wildlife and highlighted by us in 2013 as in need of protection - but not taken forward - the Scottish Government has today (19th May 2017) announced a new Marine Protected Area at Loch Carron.
Calum Duncan, MCS Head of Conservation Scotland says “Whilst a loophole of inshore fisheries management led to damage, we are hopeful that there is sufficient healthy reef left to return Loch Carron to its natural state, given time".
A policy requirement in Scotland’s National Marine Plan, means that places with such delicate natural features as those in Loch Carron including flameshell, maerl and horsemussel beds merit protection from potentially harmful activity, whether in designated sites or not.
We've long been calling for effective management of inshore fisheries, and particularly scallop dredging, in Scottish waters. It's now imperative that flameshell beds and other priority features that don’t fall within designated sites are also identified and protected. We welcome the Scottish Government announcement to immediately begin work to identify other such areas for protection.
“The decision shows how crucial the efforts of dedicated Seasearch divers were rapidly recording video footage and submitting records shortly after the event. It's good to see this response from Scottish Natural Heritage and Marine Scotland Science to the harm done to Loch Carron, corroborating the citizen science evidence, " says Calum Duncan.
We've got many records of fragile wildlife features such as flameshell, maerl, seagrass and horsemussel beds throughout Scotland gathered through our extensive volunteer diver Seasearch project. They're worthy of protection from scallop dredging and other damaging activities but are not currently in designated protected areas.
“Commitments to the promised Inshore Fisheries Bill must be upheld to deliver effective, progressive spatial fisheries management to not only protect vulnerable features and critical nursery habitats but to address gear conflict. Scallop dredging in particular has the potential to be devastating so close to the shore and in such shallow waters as demonstrated by this incident. Scotland’s National Marine Plan requires that fishing and any other activity should not significantly impact the national status of these or any other Priority Marine Feature,” says Calum Duncan.
Healthy flameshell on undisturbed seabed in Loch Carron. Aftermath of Loch Carron seabed that was dredged.