Displacement argument used against MPAs
COAST's Andrew Binnie asks who's really being displaced and why?
Under pressure from the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) and the Clyde Fishermen's Association (CFA) Marine Scotland looks tempted to water down management measures for the Clyde's 3 proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) including the South Arran MPA. These MPAs have strong public backing, however mobile fishermen (dredgers and bottom trawlers) argue that displacement from MPAs will mean loss of earnings and changes to fishing operations. But who's really being displaced?
In fact decades of overfishing in the Clyde, compounded by poor leadership and the destructive actions of bottom trawlers and dredgers have already effectively displaced fin fish fishermen, sea anglers, scallop divers and creelers from much of our waters (not to mention dozens of marine-life excursion boats). These are potentially sustainable fishing methods with low impact on the seabed. which could be worth millions to Clyde coastal communities (an economic report commissioned by Marine Scotland last year on inshore fisheries options is expected soon).
However, it appears there are some sectors of the fishing industry that do not to want to see the Clyde thrive again. It seems they would prefer to fish a risky and disease-prone monoculture of prawns rather than support MPAs which could help to revive fish stocks. Do they fear a recovery of bottom feeding species such as cod will prey upon prawns and hit their margins? If so this economic short sightedness could prevent the restoration of the Clyde to a healthy and fully productive ecosystem. As was recognised at the Clyde 2020 Summit in April we need a paradigm shift in the way we manage the Clyde to ensure benefits flow to all coastal communities. COAST (described by Richard Lochhead, MSP and Cab. Sec. as trailblazers) supports the 'Revive the Clyde' campaign (see below) and the designation of MPAs as an integral component of conservation and fisheries management in the Clyde. We welcome the Scottish Government's support and encourage it to deliver on the aspirations of coastal communities.