Prawn trawl row in Clyde

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) is urging a rejection of Scottish Government proposals for what is 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. Now, with the Scottish Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee due to meet today (27 January) to decide upon whether to recommend the MPA proposals to Parliament, the SFF is calling on MSPs to put livelihoods and communities before green politicking. MSPs will have the final say on the proposals in a parliamentary vote.

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.

“It is entirely possible to allow limited and carefully controlled fishing within parts of MPAs where there are no features of conservation importance and to impose a blanket ban over a whole area is totally irrational and unnecessary.”

A statement from the Community of Arran Seabed Trust said: “Not satisfied with having squeezed Scotland’s Marine Protected Area network to a mere 3.5% of Scottish waters during 5 years of consultations, the Clyde-led prawn lobby is now seeking to have even this modest area annulled.

“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. The South Arran MPA equates to about 5% of prawn trawl grounds in the Clyde; hardly cataclysmic.”