Scottish ministers have agreed to allow fishing boats to dredge almost a third of Luce Bay on the far southwestern tip of Galloway for four months every year. The bay is legally protected as a conservation area because of its endangered purple-pink maerl beds, brittlestars and hundreds of other marine species.
A coalition of seven major conservation groups have joined with an angling network to protest to the government’s Marine Scotland directorate over a decision to permit scallop dredging in the Luce Bay and Sands Special Area of Conservation (SAC) on the edge of the Solway Firth.
In a joint letter, they expressed concern that the government’s approach will result in the natural features special to the bay being harmed. “Fisheries management measures for Luce Bay will expose areas of seabed to potential damage by scallop dredging at certain times of year,” they wrote.
They questioned whether the government’s scientific evidence was sufficient to ensure that no damage would occur. There was evidence of an underwater reef – a potentially rich habitat for marine wildlife - to the west of the bay that could be at risk, they said.