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Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has led another Holyrood debate on Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) focussed on a song by folk band Skippinish, The Clearances Again, written in “vehement opposition” to the proposals.
Mrs Grant urged the Scottish Government to rethink the scheme to restrict marine activity in certain areas, saying: “To say that they will not impose this where communities are vehemently opposed actually ramps up the pressure rather than calms it down.
“Communities now must focus on demonstrating their vehement opposition rather than working with government to try and protect our seas and the livelihoods they support.”
Mrs Grant stressed that the policy had not been built on evidence and that coastal communities were already being punished because of Scottish Government policy that didn’t place communities at its heart.
“The impact that HPMAs could have on fishing are devastating, even on the most sustainable and environmentally friendly forms of fishing.
“We are quoted the success of the No Take Zone in Lamlash Bay, but yet the Clyde Fishermen’s Association who were instrumental in setting up the No Take Zone, tell us that the success is unmeasured.
There have been no comparative studies to show whether or not the policy has worked.
“We also have the No Take Zone in Broadbay, which has not worked at all. Therefore, we must have robust science to guide our management of the seas.”
She added that the plans, along with management of the islands’ ferry fleet, were leading to claims of a second Clearances being undertaken by stealth.
But cabinet secretary for net zero and just transition Mairi MacAllan congratulating Skipinnish for “capturing the strength of feeling” and claimed the proposals are still on the drawing board.
Speaking after the debate Rhoda Grant MSP said: “The Scottish Government claim to want to protect the marine environment yet they continue to progress this legislation.
“No one wants to protect the seas more than the fishing communities who have harvested it for years. The Skipinnish song The Clearances Again highlights that and the deep damage it will do to our rural and island communities.
“This policy desperately needs a re-think and the more this SNP-Green Scottish Government drag their feet, the more infuriated communities will feel.”