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20 March, 2018

SNH publishes Loch Carron MPA evidence

Evidence in support of the consultation announced today by the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Roseanna Cunningham, on Loch Carron becoming a Marine Protected Area (MPA), has been published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Highlighting the loch’s outstanding marine life, the report is based on a series of surveys carried out in 2017 by SNH, Marine Scotland and Heriot-Watt University.

Mike Cantlay, SNH’s chair, welcoming the MPA consultation announcement, said:

“Loch Carron is home to the world’s largest known flame shell bed - an elusive and brightly coloured shellfish species – as well as spectacular maerl beds. Not only are they outstandingly beautiful, but the west coast of Scotland is of international importance for these seabed habitats. We believe Loch Carron will make a significant contribution to the Scottish MPA network.

“Our comprehensive report supports our advice to Scottish Ministers. It’s now important we hear the views of everyone with an interest in Loch Carron’s future. I am encouraging everyone who would like to be part of the consultation, or is interested in attending our two information events for local people taking place this May, to find out more on our website.”

To see the report or to take part in the consultation, which runs for 12 weeks until 13 June, visit


Notes to Editor

In April 2017, reports were made by volunteer divers that flame shell beds in outer Loch Carron had been damaged by a scallop dredger. Flame shell beds are a rare seabed habitat.  Following survey work by SNH and Marine Scotland which confirmed this damage, the Cabinet Secretary designated an Urgent MPA in May 2017.  Marine Scotland then asked SNH to undertake a full assessment of Loch Carron against the Scottish MPA Selection Guidelines including any necessary survey work. 

The assessment has now been completed and SNH has recommended that a wider area has passed the assessment against the Selection Guidelines. The Urgent MPA was designated for flame shell beds.  SNH is recommending that maerl beds should also be included as a protected feature of the Loch Carron possible MPA.

This is a joint consultation exercise being run by SNH and Marine Scotland. SNH is leading the consultation on the case for designating the site. Marine Scotland is leading the consultation on the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment and the Marine Conservation Order (the mechanism for securing site management).

Images from the 2017 surveys are available to download from the SNH Flickr pages -

Contact information

Dominic Shann
Job Title
Media relations lead for marine management
01463 725157
Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help people understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

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A painted goby on the North Strome maerl bed, Loch Carron

A painted goby on the North Strome maerl bed, Loch Carron

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A flame shell on a shallow water maerl bed in outer Loch Carron-2

A flame shell on a shallow water maerl bed in outer Loch Carron-2

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