Scottish Environment Minister, Máiri McAllen has dismissed fishing industry concerns over the advancement of HPMAs and the spatial squeeze

Scottish Environment Minister, Máiri McAllan has dismissed fishing industry concerns over the advancement of HPMAs and the spatial squeeze

Scotland’s Minister for the Environment has told a parliamentary meeting that she will not delay the imposition of HPMAs despite concerns from the fishing industry over the spatial squeeze.

The Minister for the Environment and Land Reform, Máiri McAllan told Rachael Hamilton, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire that she will not be giving concerns raised by Scottish fishing communities any further consideration as she believes a consultation launched on Monday 12 December will be sufficient to address the issue.

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Minister McAllan said that she is determined to press ahead with the forced eviction of fishermen from their traditional fishing grounds as the drive for offshore wind energy and marine protected areas takes precedence over the long-term sustainability of coastal communities.

Rachael Hamilton had raised the question on whether the Scottish Government had made and an assessment of the potential impacts that proposed HPMAs will have on the fishing industry.

Minister McAllan replied:

“On 12 December, I was delighted to announce our consultation on our proposed approach to designating at least 10 per cent of Scotland’s seas as highly protected marine areas. As well as publishing the consultation document, which sets out the background, process and rationale for the consultation, I published a policy framework that sets out the Government’s proposed definition of HPMAs, site selection guidelines, a partial islands community impact assessment, a partial business and regulatory impact assessment and an initial sustainability appraisal, which comprises two parts: an initial strategic environmental report, which assesses the environmental impact of the policy; and an initial socioeconomic impact assessment, which identifies and assesses potential economic and social effects of the policy and proposes a methodology for carrying out site-specific SEIAs.”

Ms Hamilton replied to this answer saying:

“The minister will be aware that Scottish fishermen believe that they are running out of space. The Scottish Government’s HPMA proposals would take even more away from them. Last month, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon, joined me at a Scottish Fishermen’s Federation reception in the Parliament, at which she heard at first-hand about fishermen’s concerns.

“On the basis of those concerns, will the minister—and, possibly, the cabinet secretary—commit to postponing the proposed implementation of HPMAs until such time as she can tell fishermen, in all honesty, that those proposals are not a threat to their livelihoods?”

To which McAllan bluntly replied:

“I will not do that. The development of HPMAs marks the opportunity to make a step change in the protection of our precious marine environment. However, we are at the very beginning of a process, to which we committed in the suite of documents that we published on 12 December. Consultation and meaningful engagement have been a significant part of getting us here, and that will continue to be the case. On that note, I direct the member specifically to the stakeholder engagement document, which we published on 12 December.”

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McAllan dismisses fishing industry concerns over spatial squeeze

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