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WATCH: Fergus Ewing literally tears up Highly Protected Marine Areas consultation

By Scott Maclennan

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Fergus Ewing has literally torn a consultation document to pieces in the Scottish Parliament labelling it a "notice of execution" for Scotland's fishing communities.

The profoundly controversial proposals to establish Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) would see fishing and fish farming banned in 10 per cent of Scottish seas by 2026.

HPMAs are designed to protect marine life in Scotland’s inshore waters and like the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) stems from the Bute House agreement between the SNP and the Greens.

But many have spoken out against the plans and Skippinish even wrote a song protesting the move as it is feared if enacted fragile communities would be decimated due to the fishing ban.

Now Mr Ewing, the Inverness and Nairn MSP, has torn into the policy before he literally tore up the consultation document in Holyrood as an expression of his disdain and that of locals, he said.

‘It's a notice of execution’

Mr Ewing said: "The only mention of a fisherman [in the consultation] is what they do is destructive. What an incredible act of provocation that is."

"I've urged the minister already and I know she's rejected it but this, this issue, will haunt the Scottish Government.

"This will not go away. This is a lot of consultation document. It's a notice of execution together with the inshore cap and the special marine features, which are really putting the fear of God into our fisherman.

"And the collective impact of all of that means that the anger is as has been said palpable and in 49 years I have not come across anything like it.

"So the minister should withdraw the document, apologise for the offence, get round the coast, go around all the fishing ports or most of them, as I have tried to do in my time.

"And then she should go back to the drawing board and work with the fishing communities.

"And in conclusion, with regard to this document, I've got three suggestions to make about what to do with it.

"First of all, put it in the burgeoning policy recycling unit along with the advertising ban and the Deposit Return Scheme.

"Secondly, if you prefer user as a fire lighter.

"But thirdly, what I think – and in doing this I think I am summing up the views of the people I've worked for and value, and cherish for nearly 50 years – this [tears the consultation] is what to do with it Presiding Officer.

"This [tears the consultation] is what to do with it. I do it now. That is what the people of Scotland, who have great respect for our fisherman want to happen and what should happen and what I believe will happen at some stage or another."

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