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Marine / HPMA proposal would destroy livelihoods, local skipper warns

Skipper of the local whitefish trawler Copious Mark Anderson. Photo: SFF

SKIPPERS throughout Scotland are urging policymakers in Edinburgh not to push through highly protected marine areas [HPMAs] ‘by the back door’ after the Scottish Government confirmed it will not be taking forward the controversial policy in its current form.

However, many fishermen fear supporters of HPMAs will try their best to usher in the policy through another avenue due to the “vague” wording in the government’s response.

Industry welcomes confirmation that HPMA proposals have been scrapped

Shetland based skipper Mark Anderson said more scientific evidence is required before closed areas are implemented in Scotland’s seas.

“The idea that these closed areas are going to be a Mecca for fish is complete fallacy. It’s a fantasy, that the fish are all going to congregate in one area,” he said.

“It’s based on an ideal, it’s not based on science. Imagine you close a whole heap of places around Shetland for 20 years and half the fleet disappeared; but in that time you found that you had not changed anything in fish density. Where’s that half a fleet that you got rid of? What are those guys doing now?

“I think it would be a great pity to destroy a whole load of livelihoods over hopes, without actual scientific fact and evidence.”

Chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Elspeth Macdonald added: “Nobody cares more about our marine environment than those who are dependent upon it for their livelihoods and we remain committed, as we have been for many years, to working with the Scottish Government on an approach to marine protection that strikes a balance between conservation and sustainable harvesting.”

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