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Loch Carron has been designated as a permanent Marine Protected Area (MPA).
Welcoming the news, Katie Gillham, head of marine ecosystems at Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), said: ‘We’re delighted that the Loch Carron MPA is now designated on a permanent basis.
‘Loch Carron is home to the world’s largest known flame shell bed – containing a quarter of a billion of the fiery orange shellfish – as well as spectacular living maerl beds.
‘Not only are they outstandingly beautiful, but these vitally important marine ecosystems also provide us with many benefits, from locking in carbon to providing important nursery areas for other species.
‘The west coast of Scotland is of international importance for these precious seabed habitats and this designation ensures that they will continue to be protected and allowed to recover.’
The move was also welcomed by charity Open Seas. On their website they said: ‘On Friday May 17, a diverse group including local fishermen, divers, marine scientists, school children, campaigners, and a local politician, gathered in Plockton to celebrate Loch Carron becoming a permanent MPA.
‘The Loch Carron celebration included a boat trip into the MPA, during which Maree Todd MSP and young environmental campaigners the Ullapool Seasavers snorkelled in the waters around North Strome exploring the life that lives under the waves.
‘In the afternoon, people returned to shore for a seafood lunch of creel-caught langoustine, hand-dived scallops, mackerel, oysters, crab-claws. It showed the incredible quality of sustainable, local, Scottish seafood – the harvesting of all of this produce will benefit from protecting coastal waters.’
To read more on Open Seas website, visit www.openseas.org.uk/news/a-lesson-from-loch-carron/