VICTORY FOR ISLAND COMMUNITIES: HPMA plans halted by Scottish Government

The proposals sparked outrage in fishing communities Pic Willie Urquhart

The decision to halt controversial plans for Highly Protected Marine Areas in west coast waters has today been described as a victory for island communities.

The plans being explored by the SNP/Green alliance at Holyrood would have seen 10 per cent of Scotland’s waters closed to all fishing and aquaculture.

They caused widespread concern in the West Highlands and Islands and even sparked a chart-topping protest song, called The Clearances Again.

Kate Forbes MSP today welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision, and urged island communities to continue to engage with future marine protection consultations.

The Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP – who spoke out againts HPMAs during the SNP leadership campaign – said any future proposal must be shaped by fishermen and communities.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition Mairi McAllan – who updated the Scottish Parliament earlier today (29 June) – said a further update would follow after the summer recess as responses to the original consultation continue to be analysed.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “This is a welcome change in tack by the Scottish Government. I am relieved that the Scottish Government has agreed to halt the proposal for Highly Protected Marine Areas as consulted on earlier this year.

“I said in March that I would ditch HPMAs if elected as leader, knowing how widespread opposition was amongst coastal communities. That was born of genuine fear for the future of rural communities, as fishing is a lifeline for many.

“I am grateful to the Cabinet Secretary who has listened to appeals from across Scotland and acted decisively. This announcement will come as an immense relief to those who. understood the risk to coastal communities from the very beginning.

“Of course, it is now critical that any new proposals for marine protected areas take into account communities’ views, fishermen’s lived experiences and the importance of a truly just transition. I have confidence in any new proposals that are shaped by fishermen.”