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Save the Wester Ross MPA

The Wester Ross Marine Protected Area off the coast of Scotland is being threatened by the destructive practice of dredging in its waters. We want dredgers banned and trawling limited to save scallops, sea pens, cod, and other marine life that call this place home.

In this podcast Rob and Michela Grunebaum, ORI’s summer intern, discuss the troubles facing these ocean waters.  Sea Change, a local community group based around the shores of the Wester Ross Marine Protected Area on the North West Highlands coast of Scotland, asked the Ocean River Institute to bring non-local voices calling for more responsible regulations in their ocean stewardship place.

Dredging for scallops is a highly destructive practice that leaves in its wake tilled sands devoid of life.  In the Wester Ross MPA are several unique and diverse ecosystems that are irreparably harmed by dredgers. On a recent dive, Ali Hughson, a local scallop diver, offers his account of the damage:

We found that the boulder ridges had been dredged heavily in the recent past.  With smashed Crab and Sea Urchin still containing their meat and innards.  I saw two heavily mangled balls of Crab creels during a dive here.  The ridges had been physically altered since my last visit, four years ago.  They were lower and the boulders which comprised them had been extensively scattered.  The Kelp which had been on top of the ridges was lying, torn and limp on the seabed around the boulders.  Scallops were in some cases fatally injured with chunks of shell and skirt torn out and in others completely smashed.  It was heartbreaking.

Kelp Forest, Wester Ross

Kelp Forest, Wester Ross

 

Tilled sands after scallop dredging

Tilled sands after scallop dredging

Rob and Michela discuss several ecosystems, such as the ones Hughson describes, including the burrowed mud habitat, flame shell beds, maerl beds, northern feather star aggregations, and eelgrass beds, as well as some of the critters that thrive in these unique ecosystems. These ecosystems are being decimated along with the species that rely on them for survival. This leads to harmful effects from loss in key species, to lower catch in the commercial fishing industry, both of which impact our livelihood across the globe.

Please sign our petition. Take a moment to comment and add your voice to the many coming over the seas to Scotland.