Frosty reception for marine park plan –

Frosty reception for marine park plan Published:  03 January, 2006

A NUMBER of interest groups have given a frosty reception to Scottish Natural heritage’s announcement that three areas off the West Coast are top of their list as candidates for Scotland’s first marine national park. One fishermen’s organisation described the move as a threat of environmental imperialism, which could threaten their livelihood. SNH revealed that the Argyll coast and islands, the sea area around Lochaber and Skye and the coastal waters of the Western Isles had the highest potential for the park which will be selected in 2008. The marine and coastal national park will share the same aims as the two onshore national parks – conservation, wide use of resources, encouraging recreation and tourism and sustainable economic development.

John Hermse, secretary of the Mallaig and North-west Fishermen’s Association, said that they had to be wary of people with single-issue agendas who always seemed to get involved much to the detriment of people trying to make a living in the area. “As an association we don’t see any need for a marine national park. The boundary will go out to six miles from shore and it gives no added value to fishermen, or to other people who make a living in coastal waters. It will also be interesting to see what effect this could have on aquaculture. This is likely to impose another layer of regulations on top of an area of sea which must already be the most regulated in the world. If we are going to have it they must let people get on with their work in peace,” said John Hermse.

He added: “What concerns us is that some people are mentioning no-take zones. That is totally inappropriate on the west coast. There is no problem with any of the species caught, whether that is scallops, lobster or crabs. There might be some obscure species under threat but that should not be used to impose no-take zones and there are plenty of technical measures that can be taken to protect these species. The fishing industry is working well with Executive scientists at the moment but we will not work with people who have single-issue agendas, with an anti-fishing subtext. They want to impose a kind of environmental imperialism all over Scotland and now they want that to extend to coastal waters as well.”

Councillor Ewen MacKinnon, who represents the Lochcarron area in Wester Ross, said his community was strongly opposed to the idea. “We just cannot see what the benefits will be. The reason the environment has been kept in such a good condition that the area is now a candidate for e national park is that people have taken care of it, while earning a living in it. Our fear is that this will result in restrictions which will put a halt to many of the fishing and aquaculture activities which keep our communities alive,” he said.

Councillor Archie Campbell, chairman of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s sustainable development committee, said the Council had no official position at present. “We have invited SNH to come to a future meeting to explain what the implications will be. From what we have been told so far, however, I see a whole range of problems being caused by the formation of a marine national park and no advantages at all. We are very wary of designations in the Western Isles, because we have seen what has happened in the past, despite promises that nothing would be affected. Designation of the Lewis Moorland meant that the proposed windfarm couldn’t be sited in the middle of the moor and this forced the developers to plan their windfarm closer to townships. These aspects tend to be lost, but that is why we have to be very careful about the marine park proposals,” said Councillor Campbell. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish European Fish Trader, Fishing Monthly, Fish Farming Today, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.