Section 17 — Licensable marine activities

Marine (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 9:30 am on 4th February 2010.

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Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None 9:30 am, 4th February 2010

We come to group 5. Amendment 107, in the name of Karen Gillon, is grouped with amendments 27, 108 and 112.

Photo of Karen Gillon Karen Gillon Labour

When we began to consider a marine bill in the previous session of Parliament, the advisory group on marine and coastal strategy, which came to be known as AGMACS, was set up. In that group, and in the bill, it was never the intention to obstruct the legitimate right to sustainable fishing in Scottish waters. However, there is genuine concern that section 17 as drafted will interfere with that legitimate right to sustainable fishing in Scotland.

When I lodged an amendment the same as amendment 107 at stage 2, the cabinet secretary indicated clearly that it was not his intention for section 17 to apply to fishing and that it was not about making fishing a licensable activity. However, Scottish Environment LINK argues in its briefing against amendment 107, on the basis that it would stop the licensing of fishing in the future. There is ambiguity about what is intended in section 17.

Labour members are not against clear, effective and transparent action being taken to control fishing effort if necessary. However, if it is not the minister's intention to license fishing activity, we need clarity in the bill—it is important that the bill is absolutely clear and precise. If we do not intend to make legitimate sustainable fishing a licensable activity, we must include that exemption in the bill. That is the view of the fishing industry, which I share. If we do not do that, we risk making a back-door fundamental attack on the legitimate right to sustainable fishing in Scotland.

Amendments 108 and 112, in Kenneth Gibson's name, are no such back-door attacks on the legitimate right to sustainable fishing in Scotland; they are a full-frontal attack. I am surprised that a member of the Scottish National Party, which prides itself on standing up for the Scottish fishing industry, would come to the chamber and seek to remove from the bill the requirement for Scottish ministers to have regard to

"the need to prevent interference with the legitimate uses of the sea".

Surely we in Scotland have fought hard to protect the legitimate use of our sea. The bill has been developed through consensus and consideration of all the factors concerning our seas. I hope that all members will vote against Kenneth Gibson's amendments, which seek to remove that line from the bill and attack fundamentally the rights of our fishermen.

I ask members to support amendment 107 in my name to make it absolutely clear that licensing does not apply to fishing, and to reject the amendments in the name of Kenneth Gibson, who seeks to attack fishing in that fundamental way.

I move amendment 107.

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

We debated the issue at stage 2 and my views remain the same. I appreciate that amendment 107 seeks to put beyond doubt whether fishing could be a licensable activity. I am on record as saying that it was not our intention to make fishing a licensable activity under the Marine (Scotland) Bill. If there is any doubt, I am happy to put the question beyond doubt by using the order-making power to create exemptions. On that basis, I ask Karen Gillon to withdraw her amendment.

Amendment 27 is a minor technical amendment to ensure that any consequential amendments arising from a change to section 17(1) can be addressed.

I recall that we had various debates about the legitimate uses of the sea at stage 2. Amendments 108 and 112 would remove the duty on Scottish ministers to have regard to

"the need to prevent interference with legitimate uses of the sea" when adding to or removing from the list of licensable activities or exempting activities. That would mean that, in making our decisions, we would not need to consider activities such as navigation, fishing, mineral extraction, amenity use and offshore renewable projects. I am not sure what my colleague Kenny Gibson is trying to achieve, but I think that it would be unwise for me to accept his amendments. I therefore ask him not to move amendments 108 and 112.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

To call my amendments "a full-frontal attack" on the Scottish fishing industry is hyperbole, to say the least.

Section 17 lists licensable marine activities and states that Scottish ministers must have regard to the need to protect the environment and human health. Section 17(4)(c) states that in deciding on exemptions, ministers must have regard to

"the need to prevent interference with the legitimate uses of the sea".

It can be argued, therefore, that that effectively makes the marine licensing regime inoperable; that is the point behind amendment 108, and amendment 112, which is similar. Nearly all uses of the sea are legitimate with the exception of personalised watercraft, which probably have no authorisation under the public right to navigation, and beach users except anglers and swimmers, neither of which is authorised under common law. This exemption process is not included in the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and perhaps that is why.

Photo of Karen Gillon Karen Gillon Labour 9:45 am, 4th February 2010

I welcome the minister's comments and appreciate that he would like to use order-making powers to clarify that fishing activities are exempt from the bill, although that seems a slightly convoluted way of doing what we might achieve by agreeing to amendment 107. For clarity, it is important that we place on the face of the bill that fishing is not to be a licensable activity in Scotland. I will press amendment 107.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

Too late, I am afraid.

The question is, that amendment 107 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 5

For: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Allan, Alasdair, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Claire, Baker, Richard, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brocklebank, Ted, Brown, Gavin, Brown, Keith, Brownlee, Derek, Butler, Bill, Campbell, Aileen, Carlaw, Jackson, Chisholm, Malcolm, Coffey, Willie, Constance, Angela, Craigie, Cathie, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Margaret, Don, Nigel, Doris, Bob, Eadie, Helen, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Ferguson, Patricia, FitzPatrick, Joe, Foulkes, George, Fraser, Murdo, Gibson, Rob, Gillon, Karen, Glen, Marlyn, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Annabel, Gordon, Charlie, Grahame, Christine, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harvie, Christopher, Henry, Hugh, Hepburn, Jamie, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Adam, Jamieson, Cathy, Johnstone, Alex, Kelly, James, Kerr, Andy, Kidd, Bill, Lamont, Johann, Lamont, John, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Ken, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Stewart, McAveety, Mr Frank, McConnell, Jack, McGrigor, Jamie, McKee, Ian, McKelvie, Christina, McLaughlin, Anne, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Michael, McMillan, Stuart, McNeil, Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Milne, Nanette, Morgan, Alasdair, Mulligan, Mary, Murray, Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Park, John, Paterson, Gil, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Salmond, Alex, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Elizabeth, Somerville, Shirley-Anne, Stevenson, Stewart, Stewart, David, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, John, Thompson, Dave, Watt, Maureen, Welsh, Andrew, White, Sandra, Whitefield, Karen, Whitton, David, Wilson, Bill, Wilson, John
Against: Brown, Robert, Finnie, Ross, Gibson, Kenneth, Harper, Robin, Harvie, Patrick, Hume, Jim, McArthur, Liam, McInnes, Alison, O'Donnell, Hugh, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Rumbles, Mike, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Iain, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Jamie, Tolson, Jim

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The result of the division is: For 106, Against 17, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 107 agreed to.

Amendment 27 moved—[Richard Lochhead]—and agreed to.

Amendment 108 not moved.