Government invokes conservation order to protect Firth of Clyde
An urgent Marine Conservation Order (MCO) is being brought in to protect fragile ecosystems in the South Arran area of the Firth of Clyde.
This is the first time these powers in the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 have been used.
The move comes after a recent breach of the voluntary fisheries management arrangement in place at the South Arran Marine Protected Area, which was designated in July this year. Fishermen had agreed to avoid an area that is home to delicate maerl beds under the water, which are a nursery habitat for young scallops as well as other juvenile fish and shellfish.
Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
“Scotland’s network of Marine Protected Areas has been put in place to safeguard our most iconic marine species and habitats. We take the responsibility for the protection of these 30 sites extremely seriously and that is why I have made this urgent MCO for South Arran.
“Maerl beds are crucial to the biodiversity of the marine environment in this area and scientific evidence shows that dredging can destroy significant proportions of these delicate habitats in just one pass of the gear. Such activity is in breach of the voluntary agreement between Marine Scotland and the fishing industry and so it is disappointing to hear about this incident.
“I’m heartened to hear that the voluntary agreements in operation in other MPA sites around Scotland are working well so far. Our swift action in this case underlines how committed the Scottish Government is to maintain and enhance our marine environment so that is remains a prized assed for future generations.”
The MCO will come into force at one second past midnight on October 1, 2014 and there will be no impact on the vessels that were following the voluntary arrangements for South Arran.