HPMAs will not be 'imposed' on Scottish communities, Mairi McAllan says
Fishing restrictions will not be "imposed" on coastal communities under Scottish Government plans to introduce Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), net zero secretary Mairi McAllan has said.
The proposals aim to protect the marine ecosystem and would see fishing activity barred within the designated areas.
Ministers aim to extend these to at least 10 per cent of Scottish waters by 2026, building on the existing network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
However, opponents - including former SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes - say they will harm fishing communities.
A consultation on the matter has now closed.
Defending the plan, McAllan told The Herald an existing MPA near Arran, which includes a no-take zone, had brought major benefits for biodiversity, with some species showing a 400 per cent increase in abdundance after 10 years.
McAllan said: "I totally not only understand and care about how coastal and island communities feel. I also understood that they would feel that way. And that's why I wanted to consult so early in the process.
"We are not at the stage of having any sites in mind."
She went on: "I firmly believe that you don't impose policies on communities, you work hand in hand with them to make them work. And that's the only way to do it sustainably."