West coast fishing ports included in SNH MPA search – Fishupdate.com

West coast fishing ports included in SNH MPA search Published:  22 February, 2012

MOST of the main fishing ports in the West Highlands and Islands are being looked at in a broad search for Scotland’s new marine protected areas (MPAs).

The area under consideration by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) stretches from Mull up to Skye taking in the bustling fishing ports of Mallaig and Tobermory.

Mick Turnbull, of the Mull Aquaculture and Fisheries Association (MAFA), said: ‘We want to be consulted throughout this. The concern is that wherever they pick it is likely to have an impact on fishing.’

SNH visited MAFA’s annual general meeting to discuss the member’s concerns but Mick said: ‘They weren’t able to give guarantees it wouldn’t affect our livelihoods.’

SNH are researching various locations and will submit their findings to Marine Scotland, who have the final say on which areas are designated as MPAs.

Under international rules Scotland must create a network of MPAs. A spokesman for SNH said: ‘We’re at the very early stages of the process. While broad search locationshave been published, we are still a long way from any specific sites being identified. Therefore Mull, as with every other search location, is not at the stage of being proposed as an MPA.’

He added: ‘We have been talking to communities, fishermen’s representatives, localauthorities and others with an interest in the marine environment to let them know what’s going on and get their feedback.’

But Mick added: ‘Although it is at the early stages, it will hot up when they get nearer to deciding how many areas they are going to make MPAs.’