Scottish Conservatives urge MSPs to back call for HPMAs to be reconsidered
The Scottish Conservatives have called on MSPs to back their calls for proposals on Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) to be reconsidered.
The party’s shadow rural affairs secretary Rachael Hamilton, who has described the proposals as “deeply damaging” for fishing and coastal communities, will use parliamentary business time on Wednesday to call for the current plans put forward by the Scottish Government to be dropped and looked at again.
Hamilton argues that the plans, which would see 10 per cent of Scotland’s waters designated as HPMAs by 2026, building on the existing network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), have been designed “without any scientific basis”.
Scottish Greens coastal spokesperson Arianne Burgess has described HMPAs as a “critical part” of protecting “many species facing extinction”, as well as the “fisheries and the coastal communities that depend on them”.
Enhancing marine environmental protection is a key commitment in the Bute House Agreement - the working agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party.
The plans have been strongly opposed by Island councils such as Argyll and Bute, Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles. SNP MSPs, including Kate Forbes, Fergus Ewing and Karen Adam have also voiced concerns.
Hamilton said: “The current proposals put forward in relation to Highly Protected Marine Areas from the SNP-Green government would be deeply damaging for our fishing and coastal communities.
“It is little wonder that the sector and those communities have lined up to oppose these plans in the strongest possible terms. The Scottish Conservatives share those concerns, which is why we are forcing a vote this week in Parliament.
“The time has come for MSPs of all political persuasion to row in behind our motion and stand up for our fishermen and coastal communities against these plans, which have been designed without any scientific basis.
“The SNP-Green plans are completely unworkable and must be urgently reconsidered. We have heard SNP MSPs representing Highland and island communities voice their opposition. Now they must back up their warm words and back our motion.
“Make no mistake, the overwhelming influence of the ‘wine bar revolutionaries’ in the Greens – who have no idea about the rural way of life – are the driving force behind this illogical plan.
“The Scottish Conservatives will always stand up for Scotland’s fishing industry and I hope that fellow MSPs will join me and my party in sending the strongest possible message to the nationalist coalition that their HPMA plans cannot go ahead.”
Burgess said: “In Scotland and across the world nature is in crisis, with many species facing extinction. At the same time, fisheries, and the coastal communities that depend on them, have been in long-term decline too. Urgent action is needed to turn things around, and HPMAs, or no-take zones, are a critical part of this.”
"They will allow our fish stocks and marine environments to replenish and flourish and to go from strength to strength. These benefits will spill over beyond the protected zones, benefitting nearby fishers and coastal communities that depend on healthy seas.
"Where no-take zones have been introduced they have been successful, and have seen real benefits to marine ecosystems and local fisheries. This is what has happened in Lamlash Bay in Arran.
“We want other coastal communities to see the same benefits to their local areas. Our waters belong to all of us, and we all benefit from cleaner and healthier seas and oceans. We have a responsibility to manage them well and allow space for nature, as well as facilitating fishing.
"With Scottish Greens in government, we are working to protect our wildlife and nature and to transform our relationship with our environment and the world around us.
"We will be working closely with the Scottish Government and in cooperation with coastal communities to ensure that local people are right at the heart of the process and site selection. By working together we can ensure a better and sustainable future for fishing in Scotland while delivering benefits for people and planet.”