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Commercial Fishing



SFF comment on ScotWind round. Responding to Crown Estate Scotland’s announcement on the ScotWind offshore wind leasing round, Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the SFF, said;

“While it is clear that substantial additional offshore renewables will be required for Scotland to meet its net zero target, we are understandably anxious and concerned about the potential impact of these and future offshore renewables projects on the Scottish fishing industry.  

The 17 projects announced today by Crown Estate Scotland have been offered option agreements which reserve the rights to specific areas of seabed amounting to in excess of 7,000 km2. This is a vast area, and the majority of the successful projects are for floating offshore wind, which creates even greater spatial and co-existence problems for fishing than fixed turbines do.  

“Through the SFF and its constituent associations, the industry has always sought to engage constructively with offshore developers, and will continue to do so.

“However, it needs to be recognised at the highest levels within the renewables industry and in Scottish Government that catching fish is already a climate-smart industry that produces nutritious, high-protein food with an extremely low carbon footprint. It is also an industry that supports many jobs and businesses ashore and is vital to Scotland’s coastal communities. In the rush to energy transition, it is vital that our industry’s voice is properly heard and that the fleet’s access to Scotland’s productive fishing grounds is protected.

“In particular, proper scrutiny must be given to developers’ claims that offshore windfarms and fishing activity can co-exist with little change to existing patterns of activity, since our experience to date shows very strongly that the opposite is the case. Fish are not uniformly distributed in our seas – the fleet cannot simply move somewhere else. We need genuine and meaningful engagement, mutual respect and an even-handed approach to planning, consenting and licensing. Marine renewables are clearly part of Scotland’s transition to net zero, but so is fishing. For this to be a just transition, there must be space for both to succeed.”