The imposition of marine designations on large areas of the waters surrounding the Western Isles is totally unacceptable, according to members of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar who attended a seminar on the issue in Stornoway yesterday (23rd June 2015).
Representatives from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Marine Scotland also attended the meeting, where plans for marine designations around the islands were discussed.
Cllr Alasdair Macleod, Chair of Sustainable Development, said: “Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is fundamentally opposed to designations being imposed on local communities by the Scottish Government and European Union.
“The fishing industry in the Western Isles is totally against these plans which will have a negative impact on the fishing industry and the general economy of the Islands, particularly in Uist and Barra. The Comhairle is entirely supportive of the fishing industry and it is hugely disappointing that local views are just not being listened to.
“What is the point of consultation when local views are ignored? The Comhairle is of the view that there should be a ten year moratorium on any new designations in the Western Isles which is already making a significantly greater contribution than any other part of Scotland. I would now call on the minister to respect local opinion, reverse these proposals and stand up for the islands, the local economy and our communities.”
Part of the discussion at the meeting centred on ‘Policy Protection’ which means that once a consultation is started on designating an area, in practice it is designated until a reverse decision is made.
Cllr Macleod added: “This undermines the very principle of meaningful consultation.”