The Scottish Government announced on 11 June the management measures for 11 inshore MPAs and nine Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). The measures were greeted with dismay by inshore fishermen as they went far beyond the defined purpose of the MPA project, prohibiting fishing over much greater sea areas than what appeared to be agreed during the lengthy consultation process.
Many West coast inshore fishermen are fearful that their operations will no longer be viable and that they will be forced to fish in more exposed and stormier offshore areas.
Commenting on the meeting, Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF said: “We outlined to the Minister in the strongest possible terms the devastating impact these measures will have on fragile coastal communities on the West coast. The Scottish fishing industry fully supports the concept of MPAs, provided their designation and management is done in an evidence based manner, looking soberly at the overall management objectives of effective marine conservation and supporting a sustainable fishing industry. Conservation measures need to be right, not gratuitously damaging in pursuit of, in the Minister's words, "ambition".
“Unfortunately, the minister still seemed keen to pander to lightweight, populist lobbying and failed to understand the impact these recently announced measures will have on several of our small coastal communities, where the loss of even one or two boats could affect local schools and other pillars of village life.
"These measures are a total over-reach of the objectives set out in the agreed MPA process and we will continue our fight to oppose them in the strongest possible manner. We hope the Minister will reflect carefully on the unnecessary loss of trust that his actions have caused and act accordingly.”