Carbon-rich seabed habitats are continuing to decline on the west coast of Scotland, prompting calls for urgent action.

According to the Scottish Marine Assessment 2020, many hectares of habitats around Scotland’s coasts have been lost in the last ten years alone.

A campaign has been launched by environmental group Our Seas to recover the health of Scotland’s coastal seas.

Over 90 concerned organisations and businesses are now calling on the Scottish Government to take urgent action to halt and reverse the damage being done to our inshore seabeds by bottom-towed fishing gear.

The coalition supports the reinstatement of an inshore limit on bottom-trawling to recover the health of Scotland’s fish populations and safeguard sustainable fisheries.

They say that the Clyde marine region has lost 9.1% of its flame shell reefs and 9.9% of its maerl beds.

This totals 101 hectares of lost habitat and carbon-rich seabed that provide vital fish nursery grounds.

The members of Our Seas coalition argue that recovery of fish populations and habitats is impossible unless the causes of those declines are addressed by the Scottish Government.

Ailsa McLellan, coordinator of Our Seas said: “We have accepted the chronic decline in our fisheries for too long; now we must address the causes. This is a hidden biodiversity crisis on our doorstep, some of the habitats being lost are significant carbon sinks, they must be protected and allowed to recover."

Our Seas is currently organising a public petition which can be signed on its website