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Marine / Fishing group keen to help folk respond to marine area consultation

Photo: Shetland News

SHETLAND Fishermen’s Association is hosting two public drop-in events this week to help people prepare responses to a consultation on controversial plans to introduce highly protected marine areas in Scotland.

The events will take place at the association’s offices at Mair’s Quay at Holmsgarth in Lerwick.

The first will be between 5pm and 7pm on Tuesday (21 March), with a further session on Wednesday (22 March) from 9am to 5pm.

Both Shetland Fishermen’s Association and Scottish Fishermen’s Federation staff will be on hand to assist anyone who attends.

The local industry has already spoken out against the Scottish Government’s plans to introduce highly protected marine areas at sea, in which aquaculture could be banned.

Shetland Islands Council is also set to strongly object to the proposals.

Seafood industry and council to strongly object to highly protected marine area proposals

Now the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) has also expressed its concern.

The group said banning fishing in a tenth of Scottish waters under a network of new marine areas will have a “catastrophic impact on the industry”.

SFF chief executive Elspeth Macdonald said: “The Scottish Government’s blue economy plans have been hijacked by the Greens and will push the fishing industry into the red.

“Fishing has a very low carbon footprint relative to other forms of protein, and the Scottish Government’s own healthy diet guidance is for people to eat fish at least twice a week.

“And yet on top of the existing spatial squeeze caused by the dash to build huge offshore windfarms with little consideration for their impact on fisheries, the government wants to close a further 10 per cent of our waters to fishing vessels – with no evidence whatsoever that doing so will achieve ministers’ vague conservation aims, nor any attempt to understand the effect of displacing the fishing fleet.”

Scottish environment minister Mairi McAllan previously said the sector “can only truly be a sustainable success story if we work together to address and mitigate any impacts on the natural environment, whilst providing positive outcomes for Scotland’s communities”.

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