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Commercial Fishing



Scottish Government HPMA proposals. Statement from Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.

Reacting to the Scottish Government’s proposals for Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said:

“HPMAs are an exercise in government greenwashing. There is no justifiable scientific rationale for their introduction or any evidence whatsoever that they will achieve their very vague aims.

“They will inevitably have a significant impact in further squeezing fishing vessels out of large areas of sea – 37% of Scottish waters are already protected under the existing MPA network.

“MPAs aim to strike a balance between conservation and sustainable harvesting, whereas HPMAs will exclude fishing altogether. HPMAs will also exclude most other types of activity, resulting in even greater pressure for marine space in other areas.

“The speed at which the Scottish Government intends to bring in these restrictions – first signalled out of the blue, without any consultation, in the Bute House Agreement – is totally unsuitable relative to the scale of the potential impact on fishing.

“The fishing industry has no objection to meaningful conservation and indeed has been an active and supportive partner in developing the MPA network, but it is vitally important that we understand what we are conserving and why, and how we assess the contribution of restrictions to the objectives in question.

“The HPMA process is prioritising political objectives over good policy-making and decision-taking.”