Scotland's creelers and divers must be protected from big business

Ariane Burgess MSP says no take zones can help protect best traditions of low impact fishing from the damage done by destructive dredging of precious sea beds.

Protecting Scotland’s creelers and divers from nomadic dredge fleets ploughing fragile seabeds for profit will help preserve traditional coastal communities for generations, say the Scottish Greens. 

The party’s coastal spokesperson Ariane Burgess MSP said low impact stewards of the sea deserved to be recognised for their relationships with marine systems, separate from the impacts of those using bottom towed gear.

Speaking during a debate in the Scottish Parliament, she said:

“It does a great disservice to conflate creelers and divers - responsible members of coastal communities - with the big business that is the trawl and dredge industries.  

“Trawlers are not “at one with nature”, they are destroying nature on our seabed – vital fish nurseries and other blue living habitats, and most of the dredge fleet is not based in the community where they fish.

“Bar Shetland, the majority of the dredge fleet is nomadic  – unlike the divers and creelers who are almost always linked to the patch that they fish. That’s why those local low impact fishers harvest our seas responsibly.”

She called out rival politicians for whipping up scare stories against marine conservation to score political points, especially having endorsed them previously.

She said:

“I believe it is irresponsible, inflammatory and misleading to compare HPMAs to the Highland Clearances.

"If the member (Rhoda Grant) truly believed this policy was so damaging, why did she and her Labour colleagues stand on a manifesto to introduce HPMAs covering 20% of Scotland’s Seas? 

"The truth is, Labour care more about political point scoring than they do our coastal communities. “ 

Speaking directly to the fishing community, she added:

“To help coastal communities thrive and build community wealth, I want young people to have ample opportunity to stay in their community.

"We must deliver housing local people can afford, invest in the good, green jobs they want to do and enable sustainable fishing.  

“We need to support the local initiatives that are painstakingly trying to restore coastal habitats after decades of damage, creating jobs in the process.  And we need to make fisheries work for the creelers and divers stewarding our seas.” 

Image Credit: Mark Foster

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