Given the shared disbelief among many Scottish NGO’s about Marine Scotland’s proposed changes to the our Marine Protected Areas and Special Areas of Conservation, it is vital that we put pressure on the Government to answer important questions about their plans.
Only recently the Governments own Environmental Committee suggested Scotland’s Draft Marine Plan was unacceptable. Convener Rob Gibson MSP (SNP) said: “The committee is deeply disappointed that a Government plan five years in the making is simply not yet fit for purpose.”
We are therefore very pleased to note that MSP Mr. Michael Russell has been doing his best to get some answers. On the 29th of January he submitted the following questions on paper to the house and we eagerly await their responses:
S4W-24223 Michael Russell: To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S4W-23708 by Richard Lochhead on 9 January 2015, whether it will take account of the conclusions of the research described in the paper in Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecoysytems by Neat, Pinto et al, Site fidelity, survival and conservation options for the threatened flapper skate (Dipturus cf. intermedia), when deciding on the (a) regulations to be imposed and (b) conservation objectives set for a marine protected area to protect the common skate.
S4W-24224 Michael Russell: To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S4W-23708 by Richard Lochhead on 9 January 2015, whether it will ensure that any marine protected area established to protect the common skate recognises that (a) the numbers are still declining, (b) the survival rate as recorded by Neat, Pinto et al is a very low 0.64, (c) the proposed “closed” boxes will only reduce fishing effort by up to 5%, (d) management should consider all depths for protection as skate range through depths and (e) the banning of tickler chains will make no significant difference given that very few nethrops trawlers use these chains.
S4W-24225 Michael Russell: To ask the Scottish Government what its timescale is for designating a special area of conservation for the harbour porpoise.
S4W-24226 Michael Russell: To ask the Scottish Government who the members are of the Harbour Porpoise Project Board; how often the board has met, and whether it will publish the minutes of the meetings.
S4W-24227 Michael Russell: To ask the Scottish Government whether it plans to designate any part of the Firth of Lorne as a special area of conservation for harbour porpoises.
S4W-24228 Michael Russell: To ask the Scottish Government whether it will introduce a means of monitoring the fishing activity of vessels engaged in commercial fishery no matter their length.
S4W-24229 Michael Russell: To ask the Scottish Government whether it has evidence suggesting that illegal dredging has taken place in the Firth of Lorne Special Area of Conservation and, if so, whether prosecutions for illegal dredging have taken place, and what the reasons are for its position on this matter.