16 May, 2018
Public invited to Loch Carron MPA info events
Two drop-in sessions for local people to find out more about the outstanding wildlife in Loch Carron, and the Marine Protected Area (MPA) proposal to protect it will be hosted by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Marine Scotland (MS).
Loch Carron is home to the world’s largest known flame shell bed – thought to hold around a quarter of a billion of the elusive orange shellfish – as well as living maerl beds – spiky pink ‘carpets’ on the seafloor formed by a hard but fragile seaweed.
In April 2017, reports were made by recreational divers that flame shell beds in outer Loch Carron had been damaged by a scallop dredger. Flame shell beds are a rare seabed habitat. Following survey work by SNH and Marine Scotland which confirmed this damage, Environment Secretary Roseanne Cunningham designated an Urgent MPA in May 2017 to protect this hugely important marine ecosystem.
SNH and MS are currently inviting the public’s views on Loch Carron becoming a permanent MPA and the management required to protect these two Priority Marine Features in a consultation which ends on 13 June.
Katie Gillham, Head of Marine for SNH, said: “We look forward to meeting everybody who would like to know more about the proposals for Loch Carron at one of our local drop-in sessions.
“Scotland’s west coast is of international importance for maerl and flame shell beds. These marine habitats can provide us with many benefits. Maerl beds, provide important nursery areas for young scallops; and are an important blue carbon store; locking in harmful greenhouse gases and helping us mitigate climate change.
“We believe Loch Carron will make a significant contribution to Scotland’s MPA network and we have published a comprehensive report with Heriot Watt University which supports our advice to Ministers. We’re keen to hear the views of everyone with an interest in Loch Carron’s future.”
The informal events will be held at Lochcarron Village Hall on Tuesday 22 May and at Plockton Village Hall on Wednesday 23 May, between 2pm and 8pm. To see SNH’s report, or to take part in the consultation, visit www.nature.scot.
Notes to Editor
In April 2017, reports were made by recreational divers that flame shell beds in outer Loch Carron had been damaged by a scallop dredger. Flame shell beds are a rare seabed habitat. Following survey work by SNH and Marine Scotland which confirmed this damage, the Cabinet Secretary designated an Urgent MPA in May 2017. Marine Scotland then asked SNH to undertake a full assessment of Loch Carron against the Scottish MPA Selection Guidelines including any necessary survey work.
SNH recommended that a wider area passed the assessment against the Selection Guidelines. The Urgent MPA was designated for flame shell beds. SNH is recommending that maerl beds should also be included as a protected feature of the Loch Carron possible MPA.
This is a joint consultation exercise being run by SNH and Marine Scotland. SNH is leading the consultation on the case for designating the site. Marine Scotland is leading the consultation on the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment and the Marine Conservation Order (the mechanism for securing site management).
Images from the 2017 surveys are available to download from the SNH Flickr pages - https://www.flickr.com/photos/snh-iyb2010/sets/72157681768903201
- Dominic Shann
- Job Title
- Media Relations Officer
- 01463 725157
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