Video reveals devastation from scallop dredging on ‘protected’ Scottish seabed

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New underwater footage taken by biology campaigners successful Scotland has revealed terrible harm to marine beingness and habitats wreaked by scallop dredgers successful “marine protected areas” (MPAs).

The Scottish authorities designated the seabed astir the islands of Canna and Rum, connected Scotland’s westbound coast, arsenic the Small Isles MPA successful 2014, to conserve Britain’s lone colony of uncommon fan mussels and different features. The islands big a ample breeding colony of black guillemots.

Map showing islands of Canna and Rum
The oversea astir the islands of Canna and Rum was designated an MPA to support the UK’s lone colony of instrumentality mussels

But video footage from a camera connected an underwater remotely operated vehicle, deployed by Greenpeace and Open Seas, a Scottish charity, amusement rows of furrowed tracks crossed the “protected” seabed.

The tracks, from a scallop dredger, amusement harm to pink maerl, a fragile slow-growing coralline algae that provides food with a spawning and nursery habitat. Open Seas contrasted the harm with footage they gathered successful 2020 of the aforesaid area, showing steadfast maerl.

Scallop dredgers, which food utilizing a highly destructive sportfishing method that drags dense metal-toothed rakes on the seabed, are legally entitled to food wrong the MPA.

Phil Taylor, caput of argumentation and operations astatine Open Seas, said: “This is arguably the worst illustration of a ‘paper park’ [one existing successful sanction only] successful Scotland and astir the UK.

“The Small Isles has remained without immoderate extortion from the astir destructive sportfishing methods, contempt being called an MPA for implicit 8 years and contempt unequivocal grounds from the government’s ain scientists saying this needs to stop.

“It is simply a shocking dereliction of work that Scottish ministers person allowed this harm to occur,” helium said.

Taylor called connected the Scottish authorities to restrict scallop dredging wrong MPAs to support marine habitats and to reverse biodiversity nonaccomplishment by allowing fisheries to recover.

The footage was gathered earlier this twelvemonth arsenic portion of Operation Ocean Witness, a associated cognition to papers the information of Scotland’s coastal seas.

Less than 5% of Scotland’s inshore seabed is protected from bottom-trawling and scallop dredging, though the Scottish authorities has said it is committed to expanding protection, utilizing highly protected marine areas to prohibition destructive sportfishing and akin activities, successful 10% of Scotland’s waters by 2026.

Will McCallum, astatine Greenpeace UK, said: “It makes nary consciousness astatine each to telephone thing a protected country if you’re going to beryllium by and fto sportfishing boats trash the seafloor. Many MPAs are conscionable lines connected maps and supply nary extortion whatsoever from damaging fishing, similar bottom-trawling and scallop dredging.

A Scottish authorities spokesperson said it was determined to support bully biology presumption for each Scotland’s seas.

“As portion of that, we person committed to delivering fisheries absorption measures for our existing, extended MPA network, wherever these are not already successful place, by March 2024. This volition see the Small Isles MPA.”