Planned MPAs will create exclusion zone warns Mallaig fisherman
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.’