Planned MPAs will cre­ate ex­clu­sion zone warns Mal­laig fish­er­man

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

A MAL­LAIG fish­er­man says the fu­ture of fish­ing is bleak for the mo­bile sec­tor be­cause of ap­palling weather and the de­ci­sion to con­trol fish­ing around the West Coast un­der Marine Pro­tected Ar­eas (MPA).

An­gus McLean of the FV Sil­ver Dawn OB333 says the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion will cre­ate an ex­clu­sion zone in the heart of tra­di­tional fish­ing ar­eas and dev­as­tate com­mu­ni­ties.

Mr McLean, who has al­ways been a fish­er­man and has fam­ily ties to the in­dus­try stretch­ing back sev­eral gen­er­a­tions, said: ‘The fish­er­men in Mal­laig can­not see this lat­est con­sul­ta­tion – which will close the im­por­tant Canna Sound fish­ery – as any­thing more than a rub­ber-stamp­ing ex­er­cise that will be rat­i­fied fol­low­ing the time al­lo­cated to the con­sul­ta­tion.

‘Marine Scot­land quite cyn­i­cally pub­lished this con­sul­ta­tion in the af­ter­noon of Fri­day De­cem­ber 18 and the re­sponses will have to be sub­mit­ted by Jan­uary 18 2016. Not much time to gather our forces, given the hol­i­day break.

‘My fam­ily has been fish­ing out of Mal­laig for many gen­er­a­tions and I have al­ways been a fish­er­man, but I am also in­ter­ested in pol­i­tics. I was go­ing over the ‘Scot­land’s Fu­ture’ ref­er­en­dum man­ual again re­cently and noted the words that re­late to fish­eries, which say ‘sup­port­ing our fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties and seafood sec­tor will al­ways be a pri­or­ity for Scot­tish gov­ern­ments’.

‘Have I missed some­thing here? How have west coast fish­er­men been sup­ported in this Marine Pro­tected Area fi­asco? We moved from a per­fectly co­her­ent process agreed by the fish­ing in­dus­try, based on the best avail­able science, a po­si­tion agreed by the gov­ern­ment ad­vi­sor Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage and a proper con­sul­ta­tion process, to one where we now read open crit­i­cisms of the Marine Scot­land po­si­tion on a weekly ba­sis in the fish­ing press be­cause of its ap­pease­ment to the pow­er­ful en­vi­ron­men­tal lobby.’

Mr McLean refers to the MPA con­sul­ta­tion to which there were 4,974 replies.

‘There were 4,758 for­mu­laic re­sponses made from Scot­tish En­vi­ron­ment LINK and that rep­re­sents 95.6 per cent of the con­sul­ta­tion re­sponses.

‘The sub­stan­tive re­sponses from fish­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions were ig­nored, as was the sci­en­tific ad­vice and the ad­vice of Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage.

‘ We need the pro­tec­tion of land masses and is­lands at the time of bad weather and this was the ba­sis of our re­sponse to Marine Scot­land, along with data on eco­nomics sup­plied by fish­er­men, fish pro­ces­sors and an­cil­lary busi­nesses.

‘The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has on many oc­ca­sions be­rated the Con­ser­va­tive party for com­ments made by Ed­ward Heath that the fish­ing in­dus­try was ‘ex­pend­able’ when the United King­dom joined the Com­mon Mar­ket in the 1970s. And quite rightly so.

‘It will be in­ter­est­ing to see whether Marine Scot­land and Richard Lochhead are go­ing to be tarred with the same brush in the years to come.’

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