A locally-led fisheries management pilot for the Outer Hebrides is reporting positive impacts on fishing businesses and the environment scottish islanders opposition HPMA

Scottish islanders have voiced their opposition to the government’s HPMA proposals which they say will have devastating consequences

Scottish government warned of “Devastating Consequences” of HMPA proposals on the west coast

The Scottish governments proposals on Highly Protected Marine Areas will have devastating consequences on island life off the west coast of Scotland the islands’ Council Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has heard.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Primary Industries Working Group met on Wednesday 08 March, to consider the Scottish Government’s proposals around Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMA). Comhairle members and officers met with fisheries representatives from the catching and processing sectors to gauge industry views around HPMAs.

There was unanimous opposition and very real anger regarding the Scottish Government’s HPMA proposals. The view of the meeting was that the Comhairle should strenuously and vigorously reject and oppose any HPMA proposal in the Outer Hebrides and on the west coast of Scotland.

Speaking after the meeting the Chairman of the Working Group, Cllr Norman MacDonald said: “I have seldom attended a meeting where the frustration and anger of Comhairle Elected Members and industry representatives was so palpable. These HPMA proposals, if they proceed, will be devastating to the economy of the Outer Hebrides. HPMA’s will decimate the fisheries sector, will devastate some of our most peripheral communities and will lead to further depopulation from our islands. There appears to be a total disconnect between remote urban policy makers in Edinburgah and real people leading real lives in communities across the Outer Hebrides. It is clear, that Edinburgh-based Government Ministers and policy makers have no understanding of the devastating consequences these disgraceful HPMA proposals will have on the economy and community of the Outer Hebrides if they come to fruition. Even worse they do not seem to care.”

Mr MacDonald continued: “The Comhairle will now be responding robustly to these proposals, and we will be writing to Mairi McAllan MSP, Minister for Environment and Land Reform to intimate our implacable opposition and seeking assurance that HPMA’s will never be introduced in the Outer Hebrides. It is increasingly clear, that to protect our fishing industry and the jobs in that industry that the community of the Outer Hebrides must take control of our own fisheries. We need to remove the threat of HPMA’s and open discussions with Government around devolution of control of our fisheries. I would call on individuals and organisations across the Outer Hebrides to let the Scottish Government know their views on these destructive and disproportionate proposals.

On the government proposals for HMPAs, fisherman Donald Maclennan who lives on Harris said that the governments plans means that island communities will effectively be banned from utilising the sea for economic or leisure purposes. He told The Fishing Daily:

“Our communities are unanimous that we have to resist this Jack boot that is pressing down on us. There is no reason why the marine environment can’t be looked after (good grief- we all want that, it’s what sustains us!) with good governance, without shutting off one of the biggest assets attached to coastal communities. It’s so difficult to stand in the path of this tidal wave of blinkered and rabid environmentalism that’s the new vogue!”

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