Further consultations are to be held into three of the largest of the Scottish government’s planned marine protected areas (MPAs).
The three designations involved cover the Small Isles, Wester Ross and Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura.
They form part of a proposed network of 30 protected areas.
The decision to consult again follows feedback from the fishing industry and changes to the MPAs’ boundaries, the government said.
The aim of MPAs is to improve marine conservation, including giving greater protection for kelp and rocky reefs, beds of sea grass and maerl seaweed. The areas have been designated but the limits on what types of fishing can be done in them have still to be introduced.
The planned MPA network has support from SSACN, other conservation groups and elements of the commercial fishing industry, including creel fishermen.
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: “The consultation timings are verging on the cynical.
“Launched on the Friday before Christmas week, the allowed period spans the holiday – thereby limiting considered response from those affected.
“The issue involves livelihoods, safety, continuity of sustainable food production and well-being in local communities.
“It is simply bad governance to push it into a politically driven time slot. This must be resolved justly, not quickly.”
Mr Armstrong added: “One MPA with very significant impact upon fishing communities – South Arran – has been excluded from further consultation despite a storm of public protest at a series of west coast meetings.
“To whom is the cabinet secretary listening, if not the communities affected?”
Perhaps the answer Bertie is that he has listened to the community of Arran !