Marine Protected Areas

| September 9, 2009

Members Post ::

Just as we have had to secure land-based conservation by means of nature reserves and national parks, I feel we need to do the same in the marine environment and even more so because it is so much more interconnected within itself.

I agree with the view that of themselves MPA’s will not be the whole answer and pressure on fishing capacity and discriminatory gear will have to be maintained. However, given the efficiency of modern fishing technology, aided and abetted I may add by Government agency Seafish over the years, it is no longer possible to rely on monitoring of fishing effort or voluntary closures.

The fact remains that each boat is a free enterprise entity and its crew will push the boundaries as far as they can to make a living.

The problem is that with every boat thinking and acting the same way it becomes a tragedy of the commons with no-one in charge and no-one accountable.

Historically, that is the story of fishing. It has always been boom and bust; only with the scale of the enterprises now and the economics involved, scarcity of one resource simply moves the problem on to other species or other locations.

With this as a background, we need to start now to remove this economic pressure from chosen areas of seabed which are known to be nursery or rich feeding sites to enable fish and shellfish to grow to maturity. At least a proportion of these should be inviolate from human predation and the rest should exclude all search and find technology to give stocks a chance to recover.

Something of the order of 30% of Scotland’s marine area (out to 200 nautical miles) needs to be removed from modern fishing technology if we are to get a result within a generational time scale of 20 years.

This is something that will require great political will and perseverance in the face of disappointments, but it is a last chance.

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