Concerns HPMAs could be revived as SNP Government refuses to rule out controversial fishing ban plans

05/10/2023
Mairi McAllan (Environment and Land Reform Minister)

‘The response given by Ms Martin will provide little comfort to the fishing industry who are seeking clarity following the remarks’ – Liam Kerr MSP

THE SNP Government has refused to rule out reviving controversial fishing ban plans after Green MSPs said there was still a commitment to move forward with them.

At Holyrood, North East MSPs Liam Kerr and Douglas Lumsden questioned SNP environment minister Gillian Martin after the Greens said they were “absolutely committed” to HPMAs as part of the Bute House powersharing agreement.

But in response, Ms Martin was met with jeers from the chamber as she dodged the question and claimed “everything you need to know” was said by Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan during a statement in May.

Since Ms McAllan’s statement, Green co-leader Lorna Slater said a “new agenda” was being prepared that would involve HPMAs while Ariane Burgess claimed she was “confident the marine protections that we’re both committed to bringing in will come forward”

The plans would have resulted in the banning of fishing in at least 10% of Scotland’s waters – almost twenty times as much as the UK Government plans for English waters (0.53%).

The Scottish Government has already designated a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), covering around 37% of Scotland’s seas in both inshore and offshore waters.

In her response to the questions on whether HPMAs would be introduced again following the comments from the Greens, Ms Martin said: “I will refer you to the statement Mairi McAllan gave to this chamber and everything you need to know is in that statement.”

Mr Kerr later said: “The response given by Ms Martin will provide little comfort to the fishing industry who are seeking clarity following the remarks made by the Greens since the halt of these unworkable plans were announced.

“It’s clear the Greens are determined to plough ahead with HPMAs and are refusing to drop them.

“Today was the perfect opportunity for Gillian Martin to refute the remarks made by her Green colleagues and send the right message to fishermen who are concerned that these proposals will reappear under a different guise in the future.

“Instead, we received a ‘no comment’ which will only heighten the assertion that the Green tail is still wagging the SNP dog.

“I will now be writing to the Scottish Government seeking answers following the uncertainty which has emerged in the chamber today.”

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