Freshwater pearl mussel debate

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During her member's debate on the freshwater pearl mussel, Scottish Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon called on the Scottish government "to make a commitment to do much more to preserve this incredible species" on 8 May 2013.

The Highlands and Islands MSP is a species champion for the freshwater pearl mussel which has been fully protected since 1998.

She said there were 200 rivers in the world known to host productive freshwater pearl mussel environments with 72 of those rivers in Scotland, which was "the global stronghold for the freshwater pearl mussel".

Poaching, water pollution, climate change and changes in land use endanger the mussels' habitats.

Ms Scanlon cited the case of the first prosecution in Scotland where two contractors polluted the River Lyon in Perthshire.

She said that exploitation of freshwater pearl mussel has taken place since pre-Roman times.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse said the freshwater pearl mussel was "dangerously close to extinction" and as half the world's population of the species were here, Scotland had a "special responsibility".

Mr Wheelhouse highlighted the work by Scottish National Heritage through the £3.5m Pearls in Peril initiative with 19 areas of conservation.

He said in conclusion that in this Year of Natural Scotland there was a duty of care to protect native species and the Scottish government intended to fully play its part.

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