Fishermen from the west of Scotland and the Scottish islands are planning a demonstration on the 27th of January to start at 0900 outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.
The demonstration is timed to coincide with the 0900 discussion by the RACCE (Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment) Committee on proposed Marine Protected Areas, including controversial plans that are expected to shut some fisheries down. The industry feels that these proposals go beyond the scope of current MPAs already discussed by government.
The demonstration follows questions in the Scottish Parliament by MSP Rhoda Grant about what plans the Scottish government has to mitigate the effects of new MPAs on communities, also asking what socio-economic impact assessments had been carried out.
She followed up her initial question by asking if the Minister would award appropriate compensation to workers affected by ensuing job losses and if he will set up a PACE (Partnership Action for Continuing Employment) in each of the affected areas.
‘I again tried to emphasise to the Minister the impact these MPAs could have on our fishing industry. Industry leaders have condemned the new restrictions stating that they go well beyond what was necessary to meet the biodiversity aim and will cost jobs in our fragile communities,’ she said, commenting that Minister Richard Lochhead chose to ignore the industry experts and also the fishermen who have protected the marine environment for generations, and pressed ahead with all but three of the MPAs.
‘He appears not to grasp the importance of the fishing industry to island and fishing communities,’ Rhoda Grant said. ‘Fishing is one of the last sustainable industries on the islands and the implementation of these MPAs could pose a threat to the fishing industry and island communities. Because these MPAs will become a reality I asked him to set up PACE groups in the affected communities in order to provide alternative employment for those affected. He gave me no such commitment, ignoring the points I made.’