The SFF maintains that the measures announced go far beyond the proportionate and evidential approach that was promised for the management arrangements of the MPA network
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF said: “We have over a long period worked with Marine Scotland and the statutory nature advisers SNH and JNCC to agree on a proportional, scientifically-based protection for features and habitats in Scottish waters, whilst avoiding at the same time gratuitous damage to the sustainable harvesting activities of our fishing fleet.
“A great deal of time and money was spent in genuine participation in the consultancy process and we honestly thought that we had in sight a set of compromises on management in the proposed MPAs that would, with a bit of expected give and take, meet the aim and allow us to demonstrate an example of what the Scottish Fisheries Minister has seen fit in the past to call ‘co-management’. Unfortunately, the input of the fishing industry was not properly considered in the consultation. Our fishermen put their trust in the consultation process and these outcomes may well have implications for future stakeholder engagement.
“Proper protection of Scotland’s marine environment is vital – but instead, the outcome is a piece of overt political posturing. There are real features to protect, but there is also, in the affected areas, a real inshore fishing industry, sustainably supplying the seafood that Scotland is justifiably proud of.
“We now find that the phrase “ambitious protection plans” as used in the Scottish Government official announcement is in reality a synonym for gross over-reach. The areas declared off limits to fishing go far beyond identified features. The people to suffer, for no practical reason, will be the inshore fishermen who have done so much to contribute to their communities and to Scotland’s wellbeing.”