This accusation does not stand up to scrutiny. The proposals by Richard Lochhead, Cabinet secretary for rural affairs, food and environment, are a bold set of measures which will start to bring Scottish marine management into line with best practice. Many other countries have learned that if they want to have a healthy fishery they need to protect large areas of the sea, and particularly the crucially important seabed, from unsustainable fisheries.
Protected areas allow fish populations to recover, and then spill over into adjoining fishing areas. As a consequence, fisheries get richer, not poorer, because of well-designed spatial closures.
The measures announced by Richard Lochhead to exclude dredgers and bottom trawlers from the four Marine Protected Areas are a crucial step towards Scotland having well-managed seas. They respect the wishes of the wide array of stakeholders who believe this public asset should be managed for the benefit of all, and, far from being socio-economic vandalism, are vital if we are to stop the long decline in Scotland’s fishing industry and the many communities that depend upon our once-rich coastal waters.
Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust