Scottish Government proposals to introduce HPMAs (Highly Protected Marine Areas) have been scrapped. The Scottish Government was responding to the consultation which went out earlier this year. The proposals were deeply unpopular in island and coastal communities.
Net Zero Secretary in the Scottish Government Mairi McAllan said:
The government proposals were opposed by MSPs from across the Scottish Parliament, including in the SNP.
Commenting on the scrapping of HPMAs Scottish Labour Rural Affairs spokesperson Rhoda Grant said
“The SNP-Green government’s proposals would have been a hammer blow to Scotland’s fishing industry and the plans have been squarely rejected by the communities affected.
“It is right that the Scottish Government has finally listened to the overwhelming opposition to these plans and gone back to the drawing board – and it is essential that they learn the lessons from this debacle.
“From now on, the SNP-Green government must start working with rural communities to design plans that work for them.
“We need to empower local communities to deliver management schemes in line with local needs so we can secure a sustainable future for Scottish fishing and ensure communities get the economic benefit.”
There were 4,502 responses to the consultation, although this included 2,018 standard campaign responses organised via Scottish Environment LINK.
Of the personalised ‘substantive’ responses received, more than three-quarters (76% )said they opposed the aims and purpose of HPMAs.
The Scottish salmon sector – which is the UK’s biggest food export and provides a larger direct and indirect economic contribution than fishing – repeatedly raised concerns about the proposal. They said that closing 10% of coastal waters to human activity would impose an extra barrier on aquaculture expansion, which is already highly regulated. Scottish salmon farms support 12,500 jobs, many in coastal communities, adding more than £760million-a-year to the country’s economy.
Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said:
“This analysis confirms that individuals were overwhelmingly opposed to the introduction of HPMAs, and the government was right to listen to these concerns and shelve the proposals.
“This confirmation is a huge relief for salmon farmers and all those who rely on our sector who were concerned about the impact on their livelihoods.
“I am grateful to all the MSPs who spoke up in support of our sector and rural Scotland.
“We once again commit to working with the Scottish Government to develop workable proposals that safeguard both livelihoods and the marine environment on which they rely.”