Newly announced marine protected areas are at risk from fishing says coalition
New proposals to manage fishing in Scotland’s recently established marine protected area (MPA) network could deny protection to some of Scotland’s most precious sea areas, say a coalition of Scottish environmental charities.
The campaigners – which include National Trust for Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Scottish Environment Link - are “deeply concerned” potential new management measures for MPAs risk failing to protect and, crucially, recover the sea life which the MPAs were set up to protect.
Proposals issued this week by the Scottish Government outline a range of scenarios for 20 inshore MPAs - some of which would allow fishing methods such as scallop-dredging and bottom-trawling to continue to damage seabed habitats.
The coalition says this “on-going damage to the seafloor” has wider, knock-on impacts for other marine life such as fish, seabirds and marine mammals, which move around, feeding and breeding in important areas of our sea.
Plans are now the subject of a three month long public consultation, as Scottish Government staff tour coastal communities throughout November and December.
It’s simple: if we properly protect our sea life, then the health of our seas will bounce back - Calum Duncan
The environmental charities are now launching a joint campaign urging the people of Scotland to tell the Scottish Government: ‘Don’t take the P out of MPAs.’
Calum Duncan, convenor of Scottish Environment Link’s marine taskforce, said: “It’s simple: if we properly protect our sea life, then the health of our seas will bounce back. For over 14 years we’ve pushed for a network of Marine Protected Areas to help do just that.
“That’s why we are telling the Scottish Government: “Don’t take the P out of MPAs.”
Richard Luxmoore, head of conservation at National Trust for Scotland, added: "We have been calling for these (MPAs) for many years and it is wonderful to see them on table.
“However some of the options proposed for other MPAs fall far short of what we believe is necessary and we will be urging the government to adopt stronger protection."
Alex Kinninmonth, Scottish Wildlife Trust living seas policy officer, said the areas need to be managed properly if see life is to recover.
“For years we have mismanaged our seas and this is a rare and urgent opportunity to actually do some large-scale environmental good that benefits wildlife and people in the long-term.
"Now’s the time to create real MPAs that do what they say on the tin: protect our sea life.”