Section 85 — Exceptions to offences under section 82, 83 or 84

Marine (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:15 am on 4th February 2010.

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Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

It is important to have appropriate fines for people who cause damage in marine protected areas, regardless of who they are or what their occupation is. I am concerned about the exemption for commercial fishermen in section 85(2), as are the Community of Arran Seabed Trust in my constituency and Scottish Environment LINK.

The sea provides livelihoods for people in many industries, from ports to tourism and from aquaculture to the oil industry, and all sectors should be treated equally. That is what my amendment seeks to do.

I move amendment 118.

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

The bill provides an exemption from the offence of damaging an MPA where that happens as an unforeseen and incidental result of a lawful operation. In addition, there is a defence over and above that in respect of certain sea fisheries activities. The sea fishing defence has been thought necessary because of the requirements of the common fisheries policy. We do not wish to create an unequal playing field by creating offences that will apply to Scottish fishing boats but not to other European Union fishing boats. At stage 2, we lodged an amendment that would allow the defence of section 85(2) to be removed or restricted by order in future. Our intention is that the power will be used only where there is agreement at European level that would allow us to remove the fishermen's defence without discriminating against our fishermen as compared to those of other EU nations.

The bill's provisions on fishermen's defence are consistent with the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. The UK act applies to the offshore waters adjacent to Scotland and the Scottish ministers have certain responsibilities for that area under the 2009 act. There is a strong argument for keeping the legislation covering MPAs in inshore and offshore waters around Scotland as consistent as possible, so I ask Kenneth Gibson to consider withdrawing amendment 118.

Photo of Robin Harper Robin Harper Green

I congratulate Kenneth Gibson on lodging his amendment. There is an important philosophical point to be made here. The seas are a commons, which means either that they belong to nobody or that they belong to everybody. The attitude of people in general is beginning to change and fishermen, too, are enthusiastically, I hope, joining in efforts to conserve the fish stocks in our waters. I observe that it is perhaps the EU that should be changing its regulations rather than Scotland having to have regulations that do not protect our MPAs sufficiently. I congratulate Kenneth Gibson on raising the issue.

Photo of Karen Gillon Karen Gillon Labour

I oppose the amendment. The issue was fully debated by the committee during its consideration of the bill and it was clear to us that we did not want to put our fishermen at a disadvantage compared to those from other countries who could come and fish in our waters.

When they lodge amendments it is important that members have regard to the evidence that committees have received. On this issue, it is important that members have regard to the disadvantage at which the amendment would put our fishermen, at a time when they are already hard pressed by aspects of the common fisheries policy.

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

To give some comfort to Robin Harper, I say that he should bear it in mind that, with regard to the management schemes that are put in place following the conservation orders to help look after marine protected areas, there is always the option of using existing legislation, should certain activities need to be restricted in certain circumstances.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

There is a delicate balance here. I listened to all the arguments that have been made, but I gave the most credence to Robin Harper's, because we need to think about the long-term health and safety of the seas if we are to have long-term sustainability. His argument is that, rather than moving towards what is being done in the EU, the EU should move towards a position in which it protects our seas a bit more.

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour 11:30 am, 4th February 2010

The question is, that amendment 118 be agreed to. Are we agreed?



Division number 16

For: Gibson, Kenneth, Harper, Robin, Harvie, Patrick, O'Donnell, Hugh
Against: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Allan, Alasdair, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Claire, Baker, Richard, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brocklebank, Ted, Brown, Keith, Brown, Robert, 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, Finnie, Ross, FitzPatrick, Joe, Foulkes, George, Fraser, Murdo, Gibson, Rob, Gillon, Karen, Glen, Marlyn, Gordon, Charlie, Grahame, Christine, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harvie, Christopher, Henry, Hugh, Hepburn, Jamie, Hume, Jim, 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, McArthur, Liam, McAveety, Mr Frank, McConnell, Jack, McGrigor, Jamie, McInnes, Alison, McKee, Ian, McKelvie, Christina, McLaughlin, Anne, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Michael, McMillan, Stuart, McNeil, Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Milne, Nanette, Mulligan, Mary, Murray, Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Park, John, Paterson, Gil, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Robison, Shona, Rumbles, Mike, Russell, Michael, Salmond, Alex, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Elizabeth, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Somerville, Shirley-Anne, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stewart, David, Stone, Jamie, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, John, Thompson, Dave, Tolson, Jim, Watt, Maureen, Welsh, Andrew, White, Sandra, Whitefield, Karen, Whitton, David, Wilson, Bill, Wilson, John

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour

The result of the division is: For 4, Against 115, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 118 disagreed to.