Scotland’s west coast inshore fishermen have requested an urgent meeting with Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, Richard Lochhead, so that he can hear at first-hand their mounting concerns over the serious impact that the Scottish Government’s recently announced Marine Protected Area (MPA) management measures will have on fragile fishing communities.
The scope of these new restrictions, which came as a bombshell to Scotland’s west coast inshore fishermen, will place real pressure on this crucial sector of the rural economy. In a letter to the Minister calling for the meeting, Clyde Fishermen’s Association chairman Kenny MacNab says many fishing communities are ‘deeply troubled’ by the new MPA management measures.
Writing on behalf of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and its constituent associations, Mr MacNab says the meeting should be held in one of the coastal communities most affected by the measures so that the Minister can hear for himself the concerns of fishermen and their families.
The letter states: “We appreciate that the marine area around Scotland is a common resource with many stakeholders, each having their own right to comment and input. However there is a concern over the level of exclusion felt amongst many fishing communities and the industry. Fishermen are first-hand stakeholders and sustainable users and guardians of the marine environment. Projects like the recently celebratedFishing for Litter scheme and the continuing efforts in conjunction with Marine Scotland to improve gear selectivity go some way to demonstrating our industry’s progressive commitment.
“Many industry representatives feel they positively and genuinely participated throughout the MPA consultation process in good faith. It would certainly have been possible for the fishing industry to lobby publicly against the management measures process earlier had we known the full extent of the outcome. However we were willing and engaged in what we perceived to be a transparent and fair process. Currently fishing representatives, and in turn their communities, have been left confused and let down. More than this the Scottish economy and brand for quality seafood could be impeded dramatically.”
Mr MacNab added: “We feel this matter to be of paramount importance to the sustainability of our industry and our coastal communities and we have a strong will to work in partnership to develop alternative and mutually constructive paths forward.”