Scallop fishermen have been banned from a highland loch after a rare reef was damaged by dredging, BBC Scotland has learned. The emergency move by the environment secretary follows an investigation into damage caused to the flame shell reef in Loch Carron near Plockton. An environmental group has described it as "too little, too late". The inquiry confirmed that the damage was consistent with the impact of scallop dredging. But Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), which conducted the investigation, said there was a "viable prospect of recovery" because part of the bed had survived.
The Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) has accused ministers of demonstrating "mistrust" in their response to a rare reef being damaged. In a letter, the SFF said the government's emergency measures undermine confidence in marine protection. The flame-shell reef in Loch Carron was damaged when a scallop dredger dragged its gear right through it. The incident had been investigated by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). It concluded that the damage was consistent with scallop dredging and that there was a "viable" chance of recovery.
French fishermen have been accused of throwing insults, rocks and smoke bombs at their British rivals in the English Channel in a vicious scrap over scallops. The clash happened around 12 nautical miles (22km) off the Normandy coast, near the Bay of Seine. British boats are legally entitled to fish in the scallop-rich area. But their presence has infuriated the French, who accuse the British of shamelessly depleting shellfish stocks. Now UK fishermen are demanding government protection, while the French bewail the loss of a "primary resource".
Metal pollution left over from mining in the 19th century is weakening the shells of scallops off of the coast of the Isle of Man, a study has warned. Researchers led from York analysed shells from six areas around the island, looking at their thickness, strength and internal mineralogical composition. They said that the seabed off of the coast of Laxey -- a village on the eastern side of the island -- has been contaminated with copper, lead and zinc. While it is not clear how, the result of this appears to be that scallops are growing more brittle shells -- leaving them vulnerable to the claws of crabs and lobsters. Scallops -- as well as other molluscs -- play a key role in maintaining marine ecosystems, as they help to filter the water around them.
The UK government has said it is talking to French authorities to ensure there will be "no repeat" of clashes between fisherman over scallops off France's north coast. On Monday, nearly 40 French boats confronted British rivals they say are depleting scallop stocks in the area. The UK's environment secretary says the British boats were fishing legally. France says it is ready to send more police vessels to the area to prevent further clashes. Boats collided and stones were thrown during the confrontation off the coast of Normandy in the early hours of Tuesday.