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Scottish Land & Estates signs agreement with Police to protect Freshwater Pearl Mussels

Scottish Land & Estates has signed an agreement with the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) to help protect the endangered freshwater pearl mussel from illegal fishing.

Scotland holds 60% of the world population of this mollusc in only a small number of rivers where they filter water to the benefit of trout and salmon. Their stronghold in the north west of Scotland remains under threat from pollution and pearl fishers. Pearl fishing was a traditional pastime until it became unlawful in 1991 due to the impact on mussel populations, but some people still continue to fish for pearls.

The NWCU are looking for information regarding today’s pearl fishers and are asking land owners, gamekeepers, ghillies and bailiffs on rivers containing freshwater pearl mussels to report anything suspicious or out of place to their Investigations Officer: Charlie Everitt on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling 07917 599 690) where the information will be held confidentially. This may include wild campers, unusual vehicles, piles of shells on the river bank, people wading through the river or using glass bottom buckets to survey the river bed. Modern pearl fishers can have access to vans and 4x4 vehicles and may take mussels away in containers to open them away from the river. However, if someone is seen in the process of pearl fishing then the Police should be contacted on 999 as it is a crime in progress.

Charlie Everitt of the NWCU said, “Pearl fishing can occur in some of Scotland’s remotest places so we are very grateful for the support of Scottish Land & Estates and their members in helping to protect the remaining freshwater pearl mussel populations.”


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