The Scottish Government has confirmed that the proposed management measures for the Small Isles Marine Protected Area [MPA] will be published for consultation in August 2016.
At this week’s meeting of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, Kate Forbes MSP quizzed Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham on MPAs and what the Government will be doing to monitor the impact of the orders on livelihoods in coastal areas.
The Environment Secretary said that proposals for the Small Isles MPA would be published this summer, with a consultation beginning in August and lasting for eight weeks.
It had been announced in February that the order would be delayed to allow for more dialogue on the issue.
Covering over 800 km2, the Small Isles MPA envelops the Sound of Canna and includes the UK’s only colony of rare fan mussels.
Kate Forbes, whose Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency includes the Small Isles, says: ‘I want Scotland’s fishing industry to flourish, because this will create more jobs and in turn boost the local economy.
‘I can assure fishermen in my constituency that I will work hard to represent all views and ensure they are listened to – the last thing I want is for the MPAs to have a detrimental impact upon livelihoods.
‘I appreciate the update from the Environment Secretary that the Scottish Government will be publishing draft measures for consultation on the Small Isles MPA in August.
‘I am particularly pleased that the Scottish Government is prepared to listen to the concerns of fishermen, and I hope all parties will work towards a resolution that will protect one of Scotland’s most diverse seabed habitats as well as livelihoods in our fishing communities.
‘With MPAs only taking effect this year, it is still too early for initial findings on how they are impacting fishermen as well as the marine environment.
‘It was good to hear that the Scottish Government will continue thorough socio-economic monitoring, analysing how the fishing industry changes its activities in response to MPAs and also what the impact is on landings as a result.
‘This exercise will also look at the corresponding income and employment figures, which is also helpful.
‘I encourage people in my constituency, especially those in the fishing and environment industries, to continue constructive discussions on this important issue in the weeks ahead.’