Tavish Scott speaking about plans to expand production of Label Rouge Scottish salmon at Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona last week. He says the Scottish Government must drop plans for HPMAs or reach a consensus with marine users.

Scrap plans for no-go zones in the sea, says Salmon Scotland chief

‘There is widespread cross-party and community opposition to HPMAs’


The Scottish Government should abandon SNP/Green proposals to ban fishing and aquaculture from at least 10% of Scotland’s seas, the chief executive of salmon sector trade body Salmon Scotland said today.

Tavish Scott was speaking ahead of two Scottish Parliament debates about the government’s proposals for Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) which would be no-go zones for many people who make their living from the sea.

Scott said: “HPMAs have united the fishing sector, salmon farmers, and a whole host of other industries in opposition to the proposals which would ban any sort of human activity.

“Inside and outside parliament there is widespread cross-party and community opposition to HPMAs.

“Either the Scottish Government needs to drop these proposals, or work with marine users to develop a clear consensus on how we balance the need to protect our marine environment and safeguard the tens of thousands of jobs that rely on it.”

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart wants a fresh look at the concept of HPMAs.

Beatrice Wishart, Liberal Democrat MSP for Shetland, has tabled a motion that will be discussed at Holyrood after 5pm today and is supported by four MSPs whose constituents depend on the sea for their livelihoods, including two members of the ruling SNP.

Ewing and Forbes

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 Scottish Government’s 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 HPMAs, a plan resulting from the Bute House Agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Green Party.

Wishart wants MSPs to recognise the importance of Scotland’s fishing and aquaculture industries to coastal and island communities, accept that there are different views on HPMAs and the contribution that they can make to protecting the marine environment, and agree that scientific studies and pilot schemes to be considered and evaluated before any HPMAs are formally designated.

Rachael Hamilton: "No scientific basis for HPMAs."

'Climate-smart food'

A similar motion by Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton will be discussed in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow afternoon.

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 in the motion 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 the plan to arbitrarily designate 10% of the sea as HPMAs “has no scientific basis, or proper analysis of any ecological justification”.

Along with the £560m contributed to the Scottish economy by the fishing sector, salmon farms contribute more than £760m a year. Salmon Scotland points out that the sector supports 12,500 jobs if those in the supply and processing sectors are taken into account.