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Marine / MSP backs calls for seabed cable corridors

Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart.

SHETLAND’s MSP Beatrice Wishart has joined Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) in calling for cable corridors around the isles ahead of the annual fishing debate in the Scottish Parliament meeting next week.

Cable corridors would require infrastructure cables at sea, such as those from offshore wind turbines, to run along certain designated routes.

Cable routes would provide certainty about where such cables are and reduce the spacial squeeze impacting fishing vessels.

Last month Shetland suffered a telecommunications outage of internet and mobile coverage. While not yet confirmed, it is thought that fishing equipment damaged the cables raising questions about sea cable security.

It also comes as three floating offshore wind sites are proposed to the east of Shetland.

Wishart attended a Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) parliamentary reception last week where SFF shared a poll showing 78 per cent of respondents agreed that governments should ensure that fishing communities are not squeezed out of crowded seas.

This was followed by a meeting with SFF representatives including from the SFA.

Wishart said: “Fishing has always been important to Shetland and makes a significant contribution to the economy. Yet we are witnessing the ever-increasing restriction of fishing areas from either designated protected zones, and sea infrastructure or cables on the sea floor running to and from such infrastructure.

“Designated cable corridors around Shetland will demonstrate how the fishing sectors voices are being heard. There is a real feeling that traditional fishing grounds are being ever encroached upon at the expense of fishing, pitting energy security and the need to reach net zero against the catching of nutritious fish and food security.

“Cable corridors will also help to secure cable networks with fewer locations where cables could be crossing the seabed. We have seen the impact in Shetland where a subsea cable was damaged and need to do all we can to avoid a similar situation.”

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Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Sheila Keith said: “We are delighted to see parliamentary support to minimise the constraints on the fishing industry from new offshore wind developments.

“The establishment of cable corridors would show co-operation in determining responsible co-existence and a respect from developers towards recognising the importance of Shetland and Scotland’s fishermen.

“It would be a good start of working towards Scotland being producers of green energy to match the green, sustainable, low-carbon food that fishermen have provided for centuries.”

Offshore wind developments will go through the necessary consent process.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon previously said: “The Scottish Government sees offshore wind – and the hydrogen production which we hope will be enabled by offshore wind – as one of the most important economic and environmental opportunities we have. It can reduce our carbon emissions, improve our energy security, and create tens of thousands of high quality jobs.

“It will bring benefits for all of Scotland – but it will be especially important in the north east, and a crucial part in the transition from being the oil and gas capital of Europe, to being one of the net zero capitals of Europe.”

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