COAST urges the Rural Affairs, Climate Change & Environment Committee (RACCE) to give Richard Lochhead and the Scottish Government its full support
Despite considerable pressure from the mobile fishing lobby, who seem intent on ruining the Scottish Government's best efforts to create a well-managed network of MPAs, Richard Lochhead is determined Scotland will have a credible MPA network. At the recent Inshore Fisheries Conference he said 'Scotland's seas are not owned by any one individual or vested interest '. This is important not just for the South Arran MPA but also for the MPA network and Scotland's future as a productive, maritime society. He is correct to point out that representatives from a particular sector have no right to turn public policy on its head. In fact at the outset MPAs were delineated by Marine Scotland in a way that minimized impact on mobile fishers. And already, Arran has been asked to accept trawling in 36% of its MPA; Upper Loch Fyne will, sadly, nearly all be open to trawlers. Many compromises are already built into the network which can only succeed in creating a healthier marine environment if it offers real protection within the small areas designated. Further watering down and delays will turn MPAs into paper parks rather than a source of pride.
Coastal communities need healthy biodiverse seas that support a diversity of marine jobs, not vulnerable monocultures benefiting only a few. MPAs have a critical part to play in marine recovery and in creating jobs for young and old. We therefore encourage the RACCE committee to give Richard Lochhead its full support in passing his MPA Marine Conservation Orders into law without further delay. Marine Scotland has held over 100 consultations since 2011. Our descendants will not thank us if, we once again, cave-in to narrow interests who care little about a shared marine future.
Read Richard Lochhead's response to RACCE and mobile special pleading here.
Read the full October 2015 Newsletter