Harvesting for pearls in Europe was reserved for the church and aristocrats as early as the medieval period. Although early laws were prompted by the commercial value of pearls, they served to protect this long-lived species, most effectively in Saxony (Germany). Less efficiently managed areas (Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden) experienced declines and extirpation. Additional declines have been attributed to poor water quality, habitat alteration, and declines in host fish populations. Classified as Endangered on the 2002 IUCN Red List. Listed on Appendix II of the 1979 Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
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