Catching and processing organisations lead call to ‘scrap the ban’

Six Scottish industry organisations have come together to launch a petition calling on the government to drop its current policy on Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), under which all fishing, aquaculture and harvesting would be banned in at least 10% of the country’s waters.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Seafood Scotland, Salmon Scotland, the Scottish Association of Fish Producers’ Organisations, the Community Fisheries Inshore Alliance and the Scottish Seafood Association launched their petition at Holyrood last week.

Speaking outside the Scottish parliament, Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the SFF, said: “Banning fishing in at least 10% 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.”

Elaine Whyte of the Community Inshore Fisheries Alliance said: “HPMAs are 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.

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

“Already 37% of Scottish waters are classified as protected, and we are still witnessing ambitious Marine Protected Area and Priority Marine Features proposals and regional closures, as well as a potential inshore fishing effort cap scheme.

“We urge government to be mindful of our fishing communities’ resilience to survive and their breaking points, and work alongside them before communities are damaged beyond repair.”

Elspeth Macdonald 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.”

The petition is available at – or you can register to sign here.

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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