Highlands & Islands

Scottish government delays introducing Small Isles MPA order

Smoke canister during fishermen's demonstration outside Scottish Parliament
Image caption A smoke canister was released as fishermen held a protest at the Scottish Parliament about another MPA last month

The Scottish government has agreed not to lay the introduction of the Small Isles Marine Protected Area, SNP MSP Dave Thompson has said.

The decision to hold off putting in place an order which would limit some forms of fishing followed a meeting on Thursday.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead met with representatives from Mallaig and North West Fishermen's Association.

It was agreed that a delay would allow for further discussions.

Mr Thompson has welcomed the move and said it showed that the government had listened to concerns of west coast communities about the management of MPAs.

Another of the MPAs covering the Firth of Clyde to the south of the Isle of Arran has been the focus of a row which saw fishermen hold a protest outside the Scottish Parliament last month.

Different sectors of Scotland's fishing industry oppose or support the Scottish government's implementation of those MPAs and the others.

Some in the industry say the restrictions will harm the livelihoods of fishermen and their communities, while others believe protected areas would boost the species they catch.

Mr Thompson said: "The economy of the west coast is heavily dependent on a viable fishing industry and so I support the modest changes proposed by MNWFA, which will mitigate the economic impact of the MPA fishing restrictions.

"It is heartening that the Government has listened to the concerns of the fishermen and I look forward to further constructive discussions in the coming weeks before a revised Order will be laid."

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