Orkney MSP Liam McArthur today urged the First Minister, Humza Yousaf to rethink his government’s approach to Highly Protected Marine Areas.
Speaking during First Minister’s Questions, Mr McArthur noted that Orkney Islands Council had joined counterparts in Shetland and the Western Isles in voicing serious concerns about plans to designate 10% of Scottish waters as HPMAs. Mr McArthur noted strong and growing opposition in coastal and island communities to proposals seen as arbitrary and disproportionate.
In response, the First Minister referenced his support for ‘island proofing’ and a commitment not to ‘impose’ HPMAs on communities against their wishes.
Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said:
“Islanders know better than most the importance of our marine environment. Indeed, Orkney is already home to innovative efforts to manage and monitor stocks and biodiversity.
“However, the Scottish Government’s arbitrary and rigid approach to introducing HPMAs risks damaging the lives and livelihoods of those living and working in our islands and coastal communities.
“In his response to my question today, the First Minister claimed he is an advocate of so-called ‘island proofing’ and repeated earlier assurances that HPMAs would not be imposed on island and coastal communities against their will. It remains to be seen if this is a commitment that will be honoured by his government. Certainly, islanders will be watching carefully what happens next, now that the consultation of these proposals has closed”.