MSPs vote against lifting prawn trawl restrictions

An attempt this week by Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor to halt restrictions on fishing in 14 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), including South Arran in the Firth of Clyde, has failed.

At the Scottish Parliament’s rural affairs committee on Wednesday, January 27, Mr McGrigor had called for proposed restrictions on bottom-towed fishing to be annulled, however members of the committee voted against the move.

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

Demonstrations by groups for and against MPAs were held outside the Scottish Parliament ahead of the debate.

The legislation enforcing the rules of the MPAs has still to be passed.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) is urging a rejection of Scottish Government proposals for what it says is ‘an overly restrictive’ Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Firth of Clyde.

Following widespread dismay among West coast fishing communities over initial Scottish Government measures on some West coast MPAs in June 2015, which threatened the viability of the fishing fleet, the Scottish Government issued revised proposals for three of them. However, a notable omission was the South Arran MPA where the initial proposals made by the Government remain unchanged

The SFF says there is significant community opposition over the impact it will have on livelihoods and local economies.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, said: “We fully support the concept of MPAs and have long campaigned for the need of conservation zones to meet core sustainability and environmental objectives.

“However, the South Arran MPA as it stands goes far beyond what was agreed upon during the initial consultation, which comprised a set of sensible measures that was even approved by the government’s own statutory nature adviser, Scottish Natural Heritage, as being the preferred option for meeting the twin objectives of marine conservation and sustainable fishing.

A statement from the Community of Arran Seabed Trust said: “It seems that rather than working with others to recover fish stocks we are now dealing with a poorly led prawn-trawl lobby which is trying to scare Clyde communities.”