Freshwater Biological Association leads the way for pearl mussel conservation

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The following article, “Freshwater Biological Association leads the way for pearl mussel conservation,” was written by Carl Fallowfield and published in the Cumbria Crack on 07/13/2015. I am copying it here because of my interest in freshwater pearl mussels in England. You may have seen my earlier posts on the decline of these mussel populations due to overfishing. It seems everyone is in search of the legendary pearls these mussels produce. Read more about efforts to repopulate these mussels. Nice work FBA and many thanks to author Carl Fallowfield!

pearl mussel conservation
FBA photo of pearl mussel

The Freshwater Biological Association (FBA) is leading the way for conservation of the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel in England thanks to a £1.5 million boost from Biffa Award.

The FBA is leading the three year ‘Restoring Freshwater Mussel Rivers in England’ project, and will work with partners; Devon Wildlife Trust, North York Moors National Park, South Cumbria Rivers Trust and West Cumbria Rivers Trust to deliver river restoration and habitat improvement works in important pearl mussel rivers in these areas. Re-introductions of juvenile mussels reared as part of the FBA’s Freshwater Pearl Mussel Ark project are planned for 2018. Tagging of juveniles will aid monitoring of reintroduced mussels.

Gillian French, Biffa Award Programme Manager says “This project is an exciting opportunity to save one of the most long-lived animals from extinction; the freshwater pearl mussel can live for more than 100 years and is internationally protected.”

The project will focus on protecting key pearl mussel populations and restoring affected habitats in order to secure long term conservation of populations through the reintroduction of juvenile mussels. This work will be carried out by involving local communities and communicating knowledge and best practice to important stakeholders.

Bill Brierley, Chief Executive of the Freshwater Biological Association says “This project is an exciting opportunity to make a real difference to this critically endangered species. Freshwater pearl mussels are indicators of near-pristine water quality and declining populations provide a warning that the ecological health of the river is deteriorating. This project will raise awareness and tackle these threats in order to reverse the decline of this iconic species.”

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