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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


Endangered Freshwater pearl mussel stronghold wiped out

Once again an endangered species is being killed off by people who don't care. where is our 2012 Rachel Carson who gave us The Silent Spring published in 1962, her other books are The Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea. Rachel become my heroine the book my bible. Lets all make sure Buglife goes from strength to strength in its fight to save Britain's rarest bugs, bees, butterflies, ants, worms, beetles and many more fascinating invertebrates. Martin James

Wildlife charity, Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust, is calling for a public inquiry into the devastating loss of Freshwater pearl mussels in Cumbria.

The largest and healthiest population of Freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera) in England has been almost completely destroyed. Water levels in the outflow from Ennerdale Water Reservoir in the River Ehen fell to such low levels that the water became hot and oxygen concentrations dropped to dangerous levels. Up to 90% of the pearl mussels in the affected area were killed

Matt Shardlow, Buglife CEO said “This is devastating news. The bloated corpses of animals born when Charles Darwin was alive have been floating out of their beds and being swept into the Irish Sea.”

The Freshwater pearl mussel is an endangered species protected under national and international legislation and environmental regulators have a duty to ensure that the populations are conserved. The water flow into the River Ehen is controlled by Ennerdale Water reservoir owned by United Utilities.

A public inquiry will enable a full examination of the facts, a clear and open explanation of what went wrong and recommendations for action to take that will hopefully ensure that this and other populations of pearl mussels can recover in safety and thrive again.

The Freshwater pearl mussel recently joined the giant panda on the Species on the Edge of Survival list put together by the International Union for Conservation (IUCN)

Matt Shardlow said, “The UK supports a large proportion of the world population for this species and we have an international responsibility to protect these animals, this is probably the UK’s biggest failure to implement the Habitats Directive to date. We must understand the cause of this disaster so that it never happens again”.

Freshwater pearl mussels already face threats from poachers and illegal pearl fishing. A 2012 survey revealed that 75% of the country’s internationally important Freshwater pearl mussel sites have been damaged by criminals.

Freshwater pearl mussel facts

The Freshwater pearl mussel is one of the longest-lived invertebrates known - individuals can survive for over 100 years.

Freshwater pearl mussels can grow up to 15cms in length, and take 10-12 years to reach sexual maturity.

Freshwater pearls can be seen on many portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned from 1558 to 1603.

Illegal pearl fishing remains a major threat to the species, as does habitat destruction and pollution.

Around half the world's population of Freshwater pearl mussels are in Scotland

For more information and interview contact or call 01733 201210 or 07921700151

Buglife-The Invertebrate Conservation Trust is the only charity in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates, and is actively working to save Britain's rarest bugs, bees, butterflies, ants, worms, beetles and many more fascinating invertebrates. Further information is available on Buglife’s website at Follow us on Twitter @buzz_dont_tweet and ‘Like us’ on Facebook: Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust

Martin James Fishing