Pearl Gathering in Scotland is Banned
Natural Scottish Pearl Necklace will Never Be Finished
Pearl gathering in Scotland is banned.
WILDLIFE experts fear internationally important sites for threatened freshwater pearl mussels may have been wrecked beyond recovery by criminals.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said "significant and lasting criminal damage" has been found at 75 per cent of pearl mussel sites surveyed.
This included illegal pearl fishing and unauthorized river works, which saw the destruction of entire populations of the protected species.
Yesterday, the Scottish Government backed Operation Caesar, a new crackdown on illegal attacks on the sensitive sites. Scotland has 21 designated sites for pearl mussels, with rivers here holding about half of the world's population of the species.
During the recent survey, seven out of nine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest were found to be damaged, including three where recovery will be "extremely challenging".
In one river system in the west Highlands, one of the largest pearl mussel beds was found to have disappeared since the previous monitoring five years earlier, with no explanation other than destructive pearl fishing.
Fishing for the pearls is now outlawed and the mussels protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Crimes against them carry the possibility of prison sentences.Read entire article: Pearl gathering in Scotland is banned.