Fishermen fear for jobs future

The Firth of Clyde south of Arran
The Firth of Clyde south of Arran

The South Arran Marine Protected Area is now legally enforced, despite a battle to get the MPA rejected.

The MPA means that scallop dredging is now prohibited in certain areas in the Firth of Clyde but it still allows bottom trawling in outer areas of the MPA.

Apart from in the existing small no take zone in Lamlash Bay, sea angling is permitted within the entire area as well as all other recreational activities.

The South Arran area is one fished by boats from the Ayrshire and Galloway coasts.

The Clyde Fishermens Federation said: “On a human level many fishermen are devastated and already finding it difficult to sustainably fish. In the first few days of the MPAs being in place a number of boats have been completely tied up due to poor weather and the lack of shelter due the MPAs.

“The actual full coordinates of where the boats are allowed to fish (including the No Take Zone) were released after the 8th of February meaning that its even been difficult for fishermen to ensure they are not fishing in the wrong areas. It’s very difficult for fishermen at the moment, on top of their concerns about the process of decision making regarding the MPA and the future sustainability of their jobs due to limited access.

“It must be remembered that fishermen supported proportionate MPAs as recommended, its our view that rather than trading insults and fuelling conflict proper, fair and transparent policy decisions which are inclusive of community well being and considerate of sustainable environmental issues.”

The main aim of the MPA in South Arran is to recover the marl beds and to conserve the other features of the area in order to make a long lasting contributionto the MPA network.

MSP Jamie McGrigor had tried to halt the restriction on fishing in MPAs including South Arran however he was unsuccessful.

Community of Arran Seabed Trust’s (COAST) Andrew Binnie said: “The Scottish Government’s refusal to buckle to scare mongering from the mobile prawn lobby means the South Arran MPA came into effect on 8th February 2016 along with legislation for a further 13 MPAs including the St Kilda World Heritage Site MPA.

“We are celebrating on Arran this week and looking forward to healthier and more productive seas around Arran and Scotland.

“This will benefit all marine stakeholders and future generations.”

Wester Ross and Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura Marine Conservation Orders went before parliament on 5th of February, meaning they will come into effect in late March.