A statement made by environment and land reform minister Mairi McAllan to the Scottish parliament on 21 April on ‘progressing Scotland’s leadership on blue carbon’ runs to 1,797 words – none of which are ‘fishing’.

The closest the statement came to acknowledging the industry’s dependence on the marine environment, and its contribution to coastal economies and national food security, was when she said: “Scotland has almost six times more sea than land, and these seas play an essential role in all of our lives – they regulate our climate, support a rich biodiversity, and in turn support our economy, wellbeing, culture and heritage – especially for our coastal and island communities.”

Most of Mairi McAllan’s statement focused on the marine environment’s role in tackling climate change and helping to meet net-zero targets, through the protection and restoration of marine habitats that capture and store blue carbon. The statement did at this point acknowledge that these habitats also ‘provide ecosystem services’, including ‘providing nursery beds for commercially important fish species’.

The statement went on to discuss the work of the Scottish Blue Carbon Forum, which was set up by the Scottish government in 2018.

It continued: “The forum’s future programme will consider actions needed to manage Scotland’s blue carbon resources to minimise their vulnerability to human activities, and will also include support for our ambitious marine protection programme in Scotland – part of our shared policy agenda with the Scottish Green Party.

“Thirty-seven percent of Scotland’s seas are already designated as Marine Protected Areas. We will complete management measures within our MPA network by 2024, and separately have committed to designate at least 10% of our in and offshore waters as Highly Protected Marine Areas – with no extractive activity by 2026.

“This is a world-leading commitment to protect our marine environment, and blue carbon will be used as one of the criteria for site selection.”

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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