Scotland's rivers and burns host many of the world’s most important remaining freshwater pearl mussels populations. However, the species is under threat, not least due to crimes such as illegal pearl fishing, water pollution and unauthorised or badly managed river works.
As part of wider efforts to protect the pearl mussels, and raise awareness of the problems facing them, PAW Scotland is publishing new hotspot maps showing the locations of crimes affecting freshwater pearl mussels.
To avoid disclosing the precise location of vulnerable freshwater pearl mussel populations, the hotspots have been obscured to the nearest 10 square kilometres. The locations which appear on these maps correspond closely to those which appear on already-published distribution maps of pearl mussel popluations.
Map 1 - Freshwater Pearl Mussel Crimes 2010-2014
There were 33 incidents of criminality recorded in Scotland between 2010 and 2014. 26 of these involved illegal pearl fishing, with the remaining 7 involving water pollution and river works.
Map 2 - Freshwater Pearl Mussel Crimes 2014
There were 5 incidents of criminality recorded in 2014. 4 of these involved illegal pearl fishing, with the other involving water pollution.
A press release accompanying the publication of these maps and announcing the results of the latest pearl mussel survey, was issued by Scottish Natural Heritage on 17 December 2015.
Anyone who encounters any of the following activities should report them to the police as soon as possible:
- suspected pearl fishing or suspicious activities in or around rivers;
evidence that pearl fishing may have taken place (such as piles of shells on a river bank);
river engineering works which may be damaging or destroying the river bed where pearl mussels are found; or
evidence that someone is involved with illegal pearl fishing or any criminal activity that could affect this species.