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Rob Gibson (Scottish National Party)
At this stage of a debate, most of the arguments have usually been made. In this debate there has been consensus among members on the broad principles. Therefore, we should dig deeper into the issues and acknowledge the complexity of some of the work that we intend to take on.
In the light of the inquiry into the marine environment that was undertaken by the Environment and Rural Development Committee in the previous session, the report by AGMACS considered the restoration of biodiversity in our seas. I represent the Highlands and Islands—a huge amount of Scotland's seas lies to the west, north and east of the region. The committee discussed what should be done in the long term to restore the eco-balance in the Minch. The prawn stock in the Minch is huge, precisely because biodiversity in the area has been destroyed. There used to be other species, such as cod and haddock, in profusion, but mismanagement of fisheries led to a situation in which one stock is the remaining source of income. The situation in the Minch illustrates the depth of the problems that we face when we consider Scotland's maritime environment's long-term sustainability. We cannot solve the problems in one or two sessions of Parliament; it will take a generation.
However, this Government aspires to tackling the issues. If we are to do so, we must find a mechanism that will work. I am delighted that the Community of Arran Seabed Trust project is approaching statutory underpinning as a result of the current consultation, as Kenny Gibson said. People on Arran want to protect the seabed. However, in other countries the application to the sea of planning structures that are designed for the land causes problems. People live on land; they do not live on the sea. In the Armorique regional natural park in Brittany in France there are signs in the harbours that say, "No to a marine park". Such problems arise because we need a different approach to management of the sea.
In some countries, such an approach might be pursued by a ministry that deals with the sea. We are talking about having an overarching organisation in Scotland, but we must be careful to consider the powers that we have. Mike Rumbles said that it has taken too long to get to this stage, but we should consider how many civil servants we have and how many more people would have to be recruited to run a marine organisation.