Vague words on HPMAs spark concern for NE fishermen
The Scottish Government confirmed it will not be taking forward the controversial HPMAs policy in its current form, which would have led to a loss of around 10 per cent of Scotland’s fishing grounds.
However, many fishermen up and down the country remain concerned about the vague wording in the government’s response, and fear supporters of HPMAs will try their best to usher in the policy through another avenue.
Skipper of the Zenith in Fraserburgh, Mark Robertson, expressed his concerns about the potential effects HPMAs, or a similar blanket policy, may have on the sector, describing it as an ‘absolute shambles.’
Mark said: “To keep people out of areas they have traditionally fished in for years is an absolute shambles. Between HPMAs, MPAs, wind farms, closed areas. I mean, how much sea are we actually losing? It’s scary, it’s really scary, because there’;s not a lot of areas inside 12 miles that you can actually work in.”
Colin Stephen, a fisherman of a haddock trawler based in Peterhead shared Marks concerns, adding: “The devastation that would have in some of the local communities, that relies solely on working in shore would be huge.
"It could wipe out all the harbours in the flick of a switch, so what good is that doing for anyone? They really need to sit and think this one out.”
Elspeth Macdonald, CEO of the SFF helped to form a coalition between several Scottish seafood organisations to voice their opinion against HPMAs earlier this year.
Commenting on the consultation report, she said: “The decision not to progress the proposed HPMAs recognises the importance of a balanced approach to marine conservation, taking into account the livelihoods of our hardworking fishermen and the sustainability of our fisheries.
“Nobody cares more about our marine environment than those who are dependent upon it for their livelihoods and we remain committed, as we have been for many years, to working with the Scottish Government on an approach to marine protection that strikes a balance between conservation and sustainable harvesting.”