Discontent continues to grow among Scottish coastal communities over the government's proposed HPMA (High Protected Marine Areas) that would impose restrictions on human activity such as fishing, aquaculture, and tourism in the country's waters. Months of protest have gone by, but everything remains the same.
The HPMAs actively designate areas on the sea for strict protection, enabling the marine ecosystem to thrive. The Scottish Government has committed to establishing a range of HPMAs, covering a minimum of 10% of Scotland's seas by 2026. This protection initiative, outlined in the Bute House Agreement, would enhance Scotland's currently protected areas by providing comprehensive, "whole site" protection against all harmful human activities. Critics actively accuse the proposal of poor documentation, inadequate consultation, and a lack of consideration for local experiences.
On the one hand, proponents argue that implementing such measures is a reasonable step. This measure is commonly employed in Europe to restore fish populations and preserve the seabed. On the other hand, the industry expresses concerns that these measures will significantly impact their livelihoods and urges the government to reassess the proposal.
A division for which the industry is at least asking for cooperation with the government without signing its Death warrant. "HMPAs have been developed in isolation and conjunction with existing government policies," said Tavish Scott, CEO of Salmon Scotland. "Such as the national marine plan, aquaculture vision, commercial and economic policy, and local authority plans for the marine area." Moreover, he added that "we urge the Scottish Government to develop joint policies. The Government must prioritize evidence-based policies that protect the environment and the livelihoods of hard-working Scots."
The impact has led to the creation of music that expresses the fishermen's protest. A song written by MacPhail and performed by his band Skipinnish, "The Clearances Again." The song has reached the number 9 of downloads on iTunes.
Currently, the Scottish seafood industry continue listening to the song, hoping that its lyrics will reach the Scottish government and make them rethink things differently.