North Uist scallop firm fears impact of MPAs

Critics say the marine protected area would have an impact on scallop dredging.   Picture: Getty
Critics say the marine protected area would have an impact on scallop dredging. Picture: Getty
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The village of Grimsay in North Uist would be left “devastated” if the proposed marine protected area (MPA) around Eriskay and Barra goes ahead, with 29 jobs at a local shellfish firm being put at risk.

Hector Stewart, a director at Kallin Shellfish, said the protected area would impose a no-go area on some of the most important scallop grounds in the world.

He said: “We would be very seriously affected by this. Since we started 20 years ago we have dredged successfully for scallops and have not noticed any ill effects regarding catches. Indeed, it has improved over the years.

“We rely on the scallops to continue our business, so we manage our fishing of stocks sensibly. It would not be financially productive to overfish, as it would impact on our future stocks.

“If the MPAs go ahead we would lose a lot of fishing ground for no reason. We are being told we can fish in other areas, but the best scallops are found in the sheltered areas. We deal all types of shellfish, but it is the scallops which subsidise these other operations. Jobs are in absolute jeopardy.”