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Monday, June 17, 2024

Skippers Urge No Back Door Option for HPMAs 

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Skippers throughout Scotland are urging policymakers not to push through highly protected marine areas [HPMAs] “by the back door” after the publication of the consultation response. 

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% 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.

Mallaig based fisherman, Allan Cameron, is not against small no take zones, but states there must be more collaboration. 

Allan said:

“I believe MPA’s in the right area and with proper consultation could be beneficial. 

“I’m not opposed to small no take zones as experimental areas and assets with full transparency and evidence available for all stakeholders and public to see results, but I don’t agree with active fishing being displaced in any case or form.” 

19-year-old Erin Mackenzie, who started working in the industry last year, represents the next generation. 

She added:

“I don’t like it.

“Like I understand what they’re trying to do, but it’s cutting off areas for fishermen and we’re already losing so much. 

“We’re not catching enough as it is and it’s just going to make things worse and worse. 

“Fishing has a big history, especially here, and to just let like generations of fishermen and their families have worked to just let that die out it just be horrendous.” 

A recent poll conducted by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation [SFF], found the industry was extremely well supported in the country, with nine in 10 Scots supporting the protection of fishing fleets amid increasingly crowded seas – and that same number calling for the Scottish government to do more to support the sector. 

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.

She said:

“In June we called on the Scottish Government to scrap their plans, scrap the ban and acknowledge that it’s time to think again. 

“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.” 

The HPMA proposals sparked major protests from fishing communities across Scotland.

Critics said the policy threatened the viability of many businesses and was being pushed through without adequate consultation. 

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