'No take' debate

Fishing communities caught in biodiversity battle

Rachael Hamilton

Rachael Hamilton: deeply damaging (pic: Terry Murden)

Fishing communities and marine life will be thrust into a battle for survival as the Scottish parliament focuses on plans for ‘no take’ zones in coastal waters.

The Scottish Greens are leading a campaign to roll-out Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMA), designating 10% of Scottish waters for biodiversity protection.

These zones are a key part of the Bute House Agreement between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government, and follow similar plans that have been agreed by the European Union.

But the Scottish Conservatives are calling for what they regard as “deeply damaging” proposals to be reconsidered.

The Tories rural affairs spokeswoman Rachael Hamilton says they have been designed by SNP-Green ministers with no scientific basis and are firmly opposed by the fishing sector and communities which would be affected.

She said island councils, such as Argyll and Bute, Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles, have all strongly opposed the proposals.

She said SNP MSPs who have voiced concerns about the plans being “imposed” on Highland and island communities – including Kate Forbes, Fergus Ewing and Karen Adam – have a “perfect opportunity” to back up their “warm words” by voting for her party’s motion in the Parliament on Wednesday.

The first consultation into the plan has recently closed. At present Scotland has one no-take zone at Lamlash Bay on the Isle of Arran. It followed a community led campaign calling for one and the Scottish Greens say it has been a big success, allowing marine nature and biodiversity to heal and restore.

Scottish Greens coastal spokesperson, Arianne Burgess MSP, said: “In Scotland and across the world nature is in crisis, with many species facing extinction. 

“At the same time, fisheries, and the coastal communities that depend on them, have been in long-term decline too. Urgent action is needed to turn things around, and HPMAs, or no take zones, are a critical part of this.”

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