Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart wants the Scottish Parliament to note that there are different views on HPMAs and the contribution that they can make to protecting the marine environment, and understand the impact HPMAs would have.

Rural MSPs to challenge Scotland’s sea-ban plans at Holyrood

SNP, LibDem, Labour and Tory members seek to alter HPMA proposals


The Scottish Government’s controversial plans to ban fishing and aquaculture from at least 10% of the country’s seas will face pushback in the Scottish Parliament this week.

Beatrice Wishart, Liberal Democrat MSP for Shetland, has tabled a motion that will be considered tomorrow and is supported by four MSPs whose constituents rely on the sea for their livelihoods, including two members of the ruling SNP.

Fergus Ewing, SNP MSP for Inverness and Nairn, and a former Cabinet minister with responsibility for aquaculture, and Kate Forbes, SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch and the former finance secretary, are backing Wishart’s motion, as are Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant, and Orkney Islands Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur.

Scottish Lib-Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh West), and Labour’s Paul Sweeney (Glasgow), also support the motion, which follows the end of a consultation for Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), a plan resulting from the Bute House Agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Green Party.

Pilot schemes

Wishart’s motion asks that the Parliament recognises the importance of Scotland’s fishing and aquaculture industries to coastal and island communities such as Shetland, as well as the wider Scottish economy.

It asks MSPs to note that there are different views on HPMAs and the contribution that they can make to protecting the marine environment, and to understand the impact that the proposals will have on the fishing and aquaculture sectors and other activities of importance to coastal and island communities.

Wishart wants scientific studies and pilot schemes to be considered and evaluated before any HPMAs are formally designated and points out that any work that directly affects coastal and island communities should always be undertaken in partnership with them to ensure that livelihoods are protected.

No scientific basis

A similar motion by Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton will be considered at Holyrood on Wednesday.

Hamilton, who has previously repeated unsubstantiated concerns from the angling lobby that sea lice from fish farms may be harming wild salmon populations, makes no reference to aquaculture but requests that the Parliament values the £560 million that fishing contributes to Scotland’s economy and the communities that rely on that industry.

She also wants MSPs to recognise fish and shellfish as Scotland’s climate-smart food, and to note that plans to arbitrarily designate 10% of the sea as HPMAs “has no scientific basis, or proper analysis of any ecological justification”.

Wishart’s motion is likely to be discussed after 5pm tomorrow, and Hamilton’s will be at some time after 2pm on Wednesday.