Marine Protected Areas

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation supports the principle, laid down in the UK’s Marine Acts, of the creation of a network of Marine Protected Areas for the conservation of biodiversity and geodiversity features –as long as their designation is supported by the science and not on ill-informed emotional argument.

Cooperation with UK Governments and with the statutory government conservation advisors – Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and others – on the selection, proposal and approval of sites is high on our list of priorities. It is vitally important that the resulting network of Marine Protected Areas is constructed and managed in the most effective way possible, striking the essential balance between conservation and sustainable harvesting to meet the reasonable objectives of both.

protected_areasFailure to do so will carry the heavy penalty of missing the marine ecosystem objectives while displacing sustainable fishing activity.

Happily, there is a track record of success on which to build: the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation worked closely with JNCC during the first tranche of “Special Areas of Conservation” consultations, where sensible compromise was reached in selecting several of the sites. This served both the conservation objectives of the sites and the coordinated continuation of nearby fishing activity.

A further example can be cited, where the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation worked closely with WWF over a proposal to protect coral on the west side of the Rockall Bank in the Atlantic west of the Scottish coast. Cooperation ensured suitable protection of the feature and again the continuation of sustainable fishing activity in the vicinity .

The trust and goodwill developed in these processes must continue to be utilised; this will ensure that conservation and sustainable harvesting aims are met together. The strong commitment of Scottish fishermen to this will continue.

A consultation on a new network of MPAs in Scotland is currently underway and Scottish fishermen are playing an active and constructive role in the process.