Do we need to worry, then, that our local populations of cormorants and shags seem to have crashed? There are still a few around, but in nothing like the numbers of past years. If this area were rich in fish, one would expect us to be having an American problem: we don't. Is, then, the loss of our cormorants a clear warning about fish stocks which we are ignoring?
There is some evidence that there is a problem with the shag population in this SNH paper (.pdf file here), which carries survey data to 2011. Canna used to be particularly important as a breeding place for shags but huge damage was done to there by rats. We have never seen a rat on West Ardnamurchan, so our loss is caused by something else.
The Scottish Government has just completed a consultation exercise on thirty proposed Marine Protection Areas, one of which, 'Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura', includes a huge area running down the Sound of Mull to the south of us, while a second, 'Small Isles', covers some of the area to the north. There's more about them on the Scottish Government website here.
US statistics from New Scientist 6th February 2015.