Reefs are typically associated with warm tropical waters in picturesque locations around the world. Reefs can grow in surprising places and one area that is very distinct is Scotland. Scotland is home to a reef that is hosts to millions of clams and is the largest of its kind in the world. That was until recently when a dredging boat caused extensive damage to the reef that will take decades or centuries to regrow and restore.
Loch Carron is located in western Scotland and is home to the unique reef system where the damage occurred. A scallop dredger was found to have dragged its dredging gear through the reef twice, causing the damage. Fishing in the loch was immediately banned upon discovering the damage and assessment of the consequences have already begun.
If a positive can be found out of the situation is that a lot of attention and study has been brought to the reef system. The loch is filled with as many as 250 millions flame shells which a saltwater bivalve. The clam is known for its unique appearance and once lived in enormous populations off the coast of Scotland. Do to human dredging, flame shell beds as large as the one found on the reefs of Loch Carron are very rare. Due to the recent dredging incident, public outcry as led to a temporary ban on dredging and may in the Loch and may become permanent.
The enforcement of the banning dredging has brought a couple of positive results. Scottish Natural Heritage divers have been extensively exploring the reef and discovering how immense the reef system actually is. Prior to exploration of the reef, the biggest scallop reef in the world was thought to be in Loch Alsh which is home to 100 million scallops. The Loch Carron reefs is two and half times larger than that.
As well, the ban has brought upon sustainable harvesting of clams. The push to have the fishing industry adapt to sustainable practices is of vital importance as dredging equipment rips up the reef system, other animals and algae from their natural habitat. With the recent attention brought about by the reef damage and the dwindling population of the clams, public push should help conservationists push a sustainable agenda going forward.