Fishermen to fight marine protection area proposal
FISHERMEN have vowed to continue fighting plans for a marine protection area which was approved yesterday by the Scottish Government.
Ministers have backed proposals for the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for East Mingulay, eight miles east of the island of Mingulay. The proposal will now go to the European Commission for inclusion in a Europe-wide network of protected areas.
The East Mingulay SAC aims to safeguard the coral reef lophelia pertusa. Following earlier consultation the site boundary was revised to reduce the designated area by eight per cent.
Minister for environment and climate change Stewart Stevenson said the proposal makes a significant contribution to Scotland's natural environment.
Ministers have also approved the scientific case for a proposal for the Sound of Barra and Scottish Natural Heritage has been requested to hold public consultations shortly.
Fishermen in Barra and the Uists, who set up a campaign group, said hundreds of jobs are at risk.
John Hermse, secretary of the Mallaig and North West Fishermens' Association, said he was "bitterly disappointed".
He added: "We will continue the fight to Europe and are looking at what we can do about it from a legal point of view also."
Alasdair Allan, the Western Isles MSP, said he would "continue to make clear my constituents' opposition to a designation in the Sound of Barra".
But Calum Duncan, of the Marine Conservation Society, said: "The Mingulay reefs are unique in the territorial waters of the EU and deserve the very best protection."
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