- Written by Gus Jones
- Category: Debates
- Published: 11 April 2013
Discarded shells of fresh water pearl mussels are evidence of illegal poaching in Scottish rivers. Copyright Peter Cosgrove.
Highland list MSP Mary Scanlon who is species champion for the freshwater pearl mussel (Margartifera margartifera) has asked questions about this globally threatened species that has a stronghold in the Highlands. Fresh water pearl mussels are meant to be protected in rivers like the River Spey where the pearl mussel is an internationally qualifying interest. Climate change, pollution and illegal persecution are however all problems faced by pearl mussels in Scotland. This remarkable mollusc is one of the species about which BSCG has consistently raised concern in the context of our legal challenge to the Cairngorms National Park 2010 local plan and appropriate assessment of housing allocations with implications for rivers like the Spey. The first Cairngorms Biodiversity Action Plan recognized the fresh water pearl mussel as a key cairngorms species.
The freshwater pearl mussel is one of the priority species mentioned and illustrated in the first Cairngorms LBAP that published these photos by Peter Cosgrove and Sue Scott.
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government how many people have been (a) prosecuted, (b) fined and (c) imprisoned under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for taking, disturbing or harming a freshwater pearl mussel.
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government how many licences have been obtained to sell freshwater pearls from Scottish rivers in each of the last 14 years.
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government what action is being taken to ensure that the freshwater pearl mussel is protected while hydroelectric schemes are being developed in rivers with pearl mussel colonies.
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government what action is being taken to identify sites for a reintroduction programme for the freshwater pearl mussel.
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government how many freshwater pearl mussel sites have been found to be criminally damaged in each of the last 14 years.
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government what action is being taken to assess the freshwater pearl mussel populations in non-designated rivers.