Scottish seafood sector launches campaign against 'devastating' marine protection areas

Representatives from across the sector are urging ministers to drop the plans

Scotland’s seafood sector has launched an unprecedented campaign against “ill-founded” plans to ban fishing, aquaculture and harvesting in at least 10 per cent of the country’s waters.

Representatives from across the sector submitted a petition calling on ministers to drop their policy on highly protected marine areas (HPMAs), insisting the proposals would have a catastrophic effect on the sector.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ministers insist HPMAs will conserve marine ecosystems while providing economic and social benefits.

HPMAs have caused widespread controversyHPMAs have caused widespread controversy
HPMAs have caused widespread controversy

But Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, which represents around 400 vessels, said: “Banning fishing in at least 10 per cent of our waters is the wrong approach. No evidence has been produced by ministers to show why HPMAs are necessary or that they will achieve their very vague aims.

“They are being introduced to appease the Greens in the coalition government and will cost jobs, devastate Scottish coastal and island communities and will push the seafood sector into the red. It’s important that we push this message home, so we’re calling on people to sign the petition once it goes live on the Parliament’s website.”

She added: “Nobody cares more about our marine environment than those who are dependent upon it for their livelihoods. Coastal communities the length and breadth of Scotland are united in their opposition to this ill-founded policy. We call on the Scottish Government to scrap their plans, scrap the ban and acknowledge that it’s time to think again.”

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said: “Scottish salmon and Scottish seafood are the best in the world, but HPMAs put this global success story at risk. There is scant scientific justification for the proposed HPMAs, and an outright ban on responsible sea activities is not the solution.

“The sustainable growth of our salmon farms and other sectors is vital for the well-being of our coastal communities, the overall economy, and the vision of the Scottish Government. These proposals present a significant threat to our rural way of life, and opposition is growing both inside and outside of Holyrood.

“That’s why we have joined forces with other seafood organisations to launch this petition, urging ministers to adopt an evidence-based approach that protects both the environment and the livelihoods of hard-working Scots.”

Elaine Whyte, of the Community Inshore Fisheries Alliance, said HPMAs were only the latest example of "top down policies which threaten coastal communities and ignore the positive roles fishing communities play in providing low carbon, sustainable food to meet a growing demand for protein”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She said: “HPMAs disregard local knowledge and undermine established sustainable fisheries management practices and the security of low carbon footprint food sources.”

Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, said: “While the Government's aim to protect Scotland's marine environment is commendable and over a third of Scotland’s seas are already designated for protection, concerns have been raised about the impact of HPMAs on rural communities and the businesses that support them.

“It is crucial that the Scottish Government listens to all stakeholders and takes into account their concerns and perspectives.”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.