...By Joseph Benjamin for TDPel Media.
Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has softened her position on highly protected marine areas (HPMAs), saying that she may consider working with the Scottish government on the issue.
Forbes’ Position on HPMAs:
Speaking to BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Forbes maintained that her position on HPMAs has not changed since she pledged to scrap the proposals during the SNP leadership election, but that she is open to working with coastal communities to reach a solution.
What are HPMAs?
HPMAs would place strict limits on human activities, such as swimming and aquaculture, in at least 10% of Scotland’s waters.
Opposition to HPMAs:
Coastal communities have strongly opposed the proposals, and Forbes has expressed concern that they could jeopardise fishing livelihoods.
Scottish Conservative Position:
The Scottish Conservatives have also opposed HPMAs, with shadow cabinet secretary Rachael Hamilton calling for the plans to be scrapped.
However, a policy from the party’s manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament election appears to suggest that the party would review current protected marine areas in Scotland and expand their extent, as well as piloting HPMAs.
No Change in Scottish Conservative Position:
Hamilton denied any change in her party’s position, stating that they are nervous about introducing a pilot given the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and spatial squeeze faced by fishermen.
Analysis and Commentaries:
Scotland’s fishing industry has been a hot topic in Scottish politics for years, and the issue of HPMAs has been particularly contentious.
Kate Forbes’ recent comments suggest that there may be room for compromise on this issue, as she has expressed a willingness to work with the Scottish government to find a solution that supports both marine conservation and coastal communities.
At the same time, Rachael Hamilton’s comments highlight the continued opposition to HPMAs among some Scottish politicians.
The Scottish Conservatives have been vocal critics of the proposals, and their manifesto suggests that they would seek to expand protected marine areas in Scotland in some cases.
Ultimately, the debate over HPMAs is a reflection of the challenges of balancing environmental protection with economic interests.
Finding a way to protect Scotland’s marine environment while also supporting fishing communities will require careful planning, dialogue, and compromise.
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