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Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, highlighted problems with Scottish governments policy on Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs)

Opportunities and existential threats from government inconsistency on aquaculture – Carmichael

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has highlighted problems with the UK and Scottish governments following inconsistent patterns of action on seafood production, during a debate on shellfish aquaculture.

Mr Carmichael noted the welcome progress of the Shell-volution project bringing funding to develop sustainable mussel farming in Shetland, but also the “existential” danger brought to inshore fishing and aquaculture from the Scottish Government’s approach to Highly Protected Marine Areas.

Mr Carmichael said:

“He’s absolutely right about the woeful lack of attention that this sector gets and its importance for communities such as the ones that I represent. Could I suggest to him that what we really need here is governments that operate in the same direction? At the moment in Shetland we see the Shell-volution project which brought £4.4m into sustainable mussel farming, something that is good for the whole of Scotland, funded by both governments.

“At the same time we’ve got a consultation on Highly Protected Marine Areas which is focused almost exclusively on inshore waters, and was described to me today by a local Shetland businessman as an “existential threat” to the industry.”

Responding, Anthony Mangnall MP said:

I thank the Honourable Gentleman – I know how hard he works for the aquaculture businesses in his area, but he also sees the wider picture across the UK. He is absolutely right about the spatial squeeze that is closing out our fishermen and our aquaculture businesses.

“I suspect this is not going to be much of a debate, it may just be a moment of violent agreement across the House to talk about how we can come together to grow this sector, to bring the enormous benefits to our coastal communities and to the sector itself, and so he’ll find no disagreement with me on this matter.”

Speaking after the debate Mr Carmichael said:

“The Shell-volution project and the wider Islands Growth Deal show what we can achieve when our governments work together – it is a shame that so much else in the treatment of fisheries and aquaculture is so inconsistent and incoherent. We cannot let these vital local industries become collateral damage in ideological fights in Holyrood.”

Source: Press Release

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