Scottish Government forced to abandon controversial HPMA proposal

Editorial Staff

The Scottish salmon sector had voiced concerns about the proposal.

The Scottish Government has officially announced the abandonment of plans to establish Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in the country’s seas.

Highly Protected Marine Areas, are a type of marine conservation zone where human activities are significantly restricted or even banned to protect and preserve the marine environment and its biodiversity.

Proposals had previously been put forward to create highly protected marine areas (HPMAs) in at least 10 percent of Scotland’s waters – which would have restricted fishing and aquaculture.

Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan confirmed the decision following the release of consultation responses.

In a statement, McAllan stated, “In response to the findings of the consultation, and as I set out in parliament earlier this year, the proposal to implement HPMAs across 10 per cent of Scotland’s seas by 2026 will not be progressed.”

Negative reaction to proposal

A total of 4,502 responses were received during the consultation, which included 2,018 standard campaign responses organized by Scottish Environment LINK. Among the personalized ‘substantive’ responses, a significant majority (76 percent) expressed opposition to the goals and purpose of HPMAs.

The Scottish salmon sector, the UK’s largest food export, and a key contributor to the economy, had voiced concerns about the proposal. The imposition of restrictions on 10 percent of coastal waters would create additional obstacles for aquaculture expansion, an industry already subject to rigorous regulations.

Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of Salmon Scotland, commented on the decision, saying, “This analysis confirms that individuals were overwhelmingly opposed to the introduction of HPMAs, and the government was right to listen to these concerns and shelve the proposals. This confirmation is a huge relief for salmon farmers and all those who rely on our sector who were concerned about the impact on their livelihoods. We once again commit to working with the Scottish Government to develop workable proposals that safeguard both livelihoods and the marine environment on which they rely.”

Scottish salmon farms support 12,500 jobs, particularly in coastal communities, and contribute over £760 million annually to the country’s economy.


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