The SFF says that the guidelines as set out by Marine Scotland for the management of MPAs is very clear with a focus on the need to protect vulnerable marine features whilst at the same time allowing the continuation of sustainable fishing practices. The consultation will also include the management arrangements for nine Special Areas of Conservation (SAC).
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, said: “It is important that there is goodwill and co-operation from all parties in the new consultation process on MPA management that adheres to the underlying principles of these guidelines.
“The key criteria for the fishing industry in the designation of MPAs were that the process needed to be both evidential and proportional, and exactly the same principle is required for their management – as is laid out in Marine Scotland’s own policy and guidance.
“At the core of this process is the agreed protection of evidenced features and not any move towards the gratuitous displacement of sustainable fishing just for the sake of it. If that were to happen, it will deliver absolutely no marine conservation benefits and will simply displace fishing into other areas.
“Throughout the consultation process, there needs to be the recognition that fragile fishing communities need protecting too and that sustainable fishing secures a vital source of food for our nation. These new MPAs come on top of 150 other marine sites that are already afforded protection, which means that over 20 per cent of our seas are protected – a very significant area.”