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Operation Wingspan - Illegal Collecting of Freshwater Pearl Mussels

Alert message sent 07/07/2021 11:01:00

Information sent on behalf of Neighbourhood Watch Scotland

Operation Wingspan is a Police Scotland led campaign to deter and detect wildlife crime. It is being conducted over a year and the current phase includes a focus on the illegal collecting of Freshwater Pearl Mussels.

Freshwater pearl mussels are similar in shape to common marine mussels but are larger. They can grow as large as your hand and live for more than 100 years.

These mussels live on river beds but due to illegal fishing and pollution this species is close to extinction in many Scottish rivers. Some of the world’s largest remaining populations of Freshwater Pearl Mussel are located in Scottish rivers. Therefore a decline in local populations could have a catastrophic impact on the world’s population.  As such, it is a crime punishable by imprisonment to take, kill or disturb a FWPM.

FWPM fishers often wear a wet suit or waders and use a long cane with a split in the bottom and a glass bottomed bucket for collecting. You may also notice empty FWPM shells on riverbanks.

If you are witnessing an ongoing crime call 999.  If you have information then please contact Police Scotland on 101 or make a call anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Message sent by
Mark Armstrong (NHWN, Community Support Officer, Neighbourhood Watch Scotland)

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