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Montevideo, February 29th 2024 - 19:27 UTC

 

 

Scotland suspends plans to create Protected Marine Areas in 10% of its waters

Friday, June 30th 2023 - 07:52 UTC
Full article
Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan said the government was firmly committed to enhancing marine protection, “but current plans would not be progressed.” Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan said the government was firmly committed to enhancing marine protection, “but current plans would not be progressed.”

Under strong pressure from the fishing industry and some island communities, the Scottish government has scrapped plans to create Highly Protected Marine Areas in 10% of Scotland's seas. The proposals would have restricted fishing and other human activities in some coastal areas, in a bid to protect the environment.

Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan said the government was firmly committed to enhancing marine protection, “but said the current plans would not be progressed.”

Instead, the Scottish government will consult further with the industry, communities and conservation organizations about a new pathway and timetable.

However, groups that wish to pursue community-led marine protection in their local area on a quicker timescale, such as those initiatives in Lamlash Bay on Arran, will be supported to pursue their plans.

Members of the Scottish fishing industry, coastal communities and even some MSPs had raised fierce objections to the marine conservation proposals.

The Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF), which represents the country's fishermen's associations, has warned the plans could have a “catastrophic impact” on the industry.

Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan announced the change of plan in Holyrood.
Former Finance Secretary Kate Forbes warned people, not wildlife, could become the “endangered species” in Highland and island areas due to jobs being lost as a result of the proposals.

Those sentiments were captured in a popular song by Celtic music band Skippinish, whose The Clearances again track warned that the “the soul will be torn” from island communities, with the protected areas representing “a wrecking ball through our existence”.

Ms McAllan said: ”We chose to consult as early and widely as possible on the principles of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), with no pre-determined sites.

“It has always been, and continues to be, this government's plan to work co-operatively with communities to identify how and where to enhance marine protection in a way that minimizes impact and maximizes opportunity.

”Therefore, while we remain firmly committed to the outcome of enhanced marine protection, the proposal as consulted on will not be progressed.”

As part of the Bute House Agreement - which brought the Scottish Greens into government in a historic power-sharing deal with the SNP - ministers had planned to designate at least 10% of Scotland's seas as HPMAs by 2026.

It meant that all forms of fishing including recreational catch and release angling would be prohibited in selected sites.

Seaweed harvesting would also be banned, no new marine renewable energy schemes would be allowed and the laying of subsea cables would be restricted.

Managed levels of swimming, snorkeling and windsurfing would be allowed.

About 37% of Scotland's seas are already included in Scotland's Marine Protected Areas network. These areas are managed for the long-term conservation of marine resources, ecosystems services, or cultural heritage.

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