Inshore Fisheries (Activity Cap)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd September 2021.

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Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

2. To ask the Scottish Government when it will begin consulting on a cap on fishing activity in inshore waters. (S6O-00184)

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

A cap on inshore fishing activity is one of the measures that were outlined in the recent co-operation agreement with the Scottish Green Party. Those measures will help to ensure that Scotland leads the way on marine environmental protection, will enhance our reputation for providing quality sustainable seafood and will position us well to deliver a green recovery.

Early preparatory work is already under way, and we will consult as soon as is practicable. We will, of course, ensure that all stakeholders are encouraged to take part in the consultation, including our regional inshore fisheries groups.

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

Given the importance of fishing to my constituency, can the cabinet secretary say anything about the likely timescales involved, or give an assurance that an islands community impact assessment will be carried out before any changes are introduced?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

The Government will test the potential impact of capping activity in inshore waters so that the needs of our island communities are specifically considered. We will engage with our island-based regional inshore fisheries groups, as well as all other relevant stakeholders, throughout the process. As part of the process, all the relevant statutory assessments will be undertaken, including an islands community impact assessment. We will look to do that early in the process so that it can help to shape our policy as it develops.

Photo of Ariane Burgess Ariane Burgess Green

How will the Scottish Government consider NatureScot’s advice regarding the impact of mobile fishing on maerl beds and other habitats when it establishes the cap on fishing activity in inshore waters?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

We want to base our decisions on the best scientific evidence that is available. In looking at capping activity in inshore waters and in going through the process of designating highly protected marine areas, we will engage and consult thoroughly to make sure that any designations that we make or any decisions that we take on such matters are based on the best available scientific evidence.