MCS calms fears of Barra Islanders over protection concerns

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 8 February 2012

MCS calms fears of Barra Islanders over protection concerns Support for Sound of Barra as Special Area of Conservation will not result in ‘no take zones’..

MCS calms fears of Barra Islanders over protection concerns Support for Sound of Barra as Special Area of Conservation will not result in ‘no take zones’ As the Scottish Parliament debate the designation of the Sound of Barra as a Special Area of Conservation (8th February), MCS reiterates its support for the move due to the area’s internationally important reefs, sandbanks and common seals. There are 19 different types of reef habitat in the Sound of Barra and the sandbanks support fragile and important features such as seagrass beds and probably the UK’s largest maerl beds. Maerl, a fragile coral-like seaweed that forms beds on the seafloor, provides important nursery grounds for commercial species such as scallops, cod and whiting, but is susceptible to damage from some human activities like heavy towed fishing gears such as scallop dredges. Calum Duncan, MCS Scotland Programme Manager says, “Although out of sight, these fragile habitats are no less important to Scotland than the Glen Affric pine forests or Forsinard flow country. They are by no means ‘no-take zones’ and designation will not affect activities compatible with the conservation of these precious habitats. Creeling, pelagic fishing and hand-diving for scallops need not be restricted at all, provided they are managed to ensure they are within sustainable limits.” Designating this site would help Scotland meet commitments under European law and make a valuable contribution to the Scottish Government’s duty to deliver a coherent network of marine protected areas in Scottish waters. Calum continues, “Marine protected areas are an essential tool, along with others, to help regenerate our seas. Careful management and protection of such sites will help secure a sustainable future for the fragile coastal communities that rely upon them.”

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