Protection for world’s biggest flame shell bed

Loch Carron to receive permanent marine protection.

Steps are being taken to safeguard a Scottish flame shell reef – as the Scottish Government consults to create a permanent Marine Protected Area (MPA).

Loch Carron, on the north west coast, has the world’s largest flame shell bed, home to an estimated 250 million of the brightly coloured molluscs.

Loch Carron was designated as an emergency MPA in May 2017, following confirmation of damage to the flame shell beds by a dredging incident. A Marine Conservation Order was put in place at the same time to manage fishing activity. The consultation will seek views on creating a permanent MPA covering the whole of Loch Carron.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Scotland has some of the most beautiful and diverse marine ecosystems in the world and the flame shells at Loch Carron are of international importance.

“That is why we are taking new measures to protect these amazing ecosystems to ensure they are safeguarded for future generations to enjoy the benefits of them, which are often taken for granted.”

“This consultation is a key step to ensuring Loch Carron is given permanent marine protection to ensure the recovery of the flame shell beds in Loch Carron.”


Loch Carron survey work in 2017 also identified maerl beds, another vulnerable habitat, which will also be protected.

These habitats play an important role in the health of the sea – flame shells clean the water and maerl beds are a vital blue carbon store.  They both provide a nursery habitat for a wide range of species, including commercially important ones such as scallops.

Protected areas are one of the mechanisms used to ensure protection of some of the most vulnerable species and habitats.

The Scottish MPA network covers approximately 20% of our seas and comprises 168 sites.

The existing protection remains in place throughout this process.

You can access the consultation here.

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