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03 February, 2015

SNH and Police Scotland ask public to report illegal shellfish collecting

Local people are being asked to report anyone they see collecting shellfish in Loch Fleet or along the northern shores of the Dornoch Firth. Collecting shellfish in this area is a criminal offence.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Police Scotland are asking the public to contact Police Scotland on their 101 non-emergency phone number.

Both Loch Fleet and the surrounding Dornoch Firth are nationally and internationally protected areas and the estuarine habitats there are especially important for a variety of overwintering waders and geese.

Shellfish and other marine invertebrates are an important food source for overwintering birds. Because both commercial and domestic collecting of shellfish reduces the food available for wintering birds, the area is protected by the “Loch Fleet and Dornoch and Cuthill Sands Nature Conservation Order 1995”. This order prohibits collecting shellfish and marine invertebrates.

Chief Inspector Colin Gough, Wildlife Crime Co-ordinator for the Highlands, said: "Police Scotland treats Wildlife Crime very seriously and we would encourage the public to report all incidents to the police at the time they see the incident in progress.

"You can do this by telephoning our non-emergency 101 number or in an emergency 999 and reporting the incident to the area control room.

"Not only is shellfish collection an offence on Loch Fleet, it is also a potentially very dangerous activity, due to the soft mud and tidal nature of the loch, therefore we would strongly urge anyone against undertaken this activity.”

Loch Fleet was became a national nature reserve in 1998 and is a large tidal basin surrounded by dunes, saltmarsh and pine woods. It's the most northerly estuary on Scotland’s east coast and whatever the season, its range of habitats supports a wide variety of wildlife, making it a great place to visit for nature watching at any time of the year.

Adam Rose, SNH’s manager of the Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve, added: “Protecting areas like Loch Fleet and the Dornoch Firth helps ensure that developments and activities are sustainable, meaning that more of us can enjoy an important part of Scotland’s nature. Nature-based tourism plays a vital part in the rural economy of Sutherland and across Scotland as a whole, pulling in millions of pounds and creating many hundreds of job opportunities.”

As one of Europe’s leading year-round nature destinations with a world famous reputation for its nature and landscapes, Scotland has a great deal to offer visitors. With spending on nature-based activities worth nearly 40% of all tourism spending, nature-based tourism can generate significant benefits for local economies.


MEDIA QUERIES - for more information, contact SNH press & public relations officer, Vicki Mowat on or 0131 316 2659 (Tues-Fri) or call the main Inverness press office on 01463 725 022 (Mon).

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Loch Fleet: Pleae credit Lorne Gill/SNH

Loch Fleet

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