Environmental groups are preparing to savage management arrangements planned for a new network of marine protected areas around Scotland. The measures will enable business as usual for fishing boats, they will say, and precious wildlife sites will suffer as a result.
This weekend, a survey ship is due off Wester Ross to look for evidence of the kind of valuable underwater habitats that risk losing out. It is searching for lush, purple-pink seabed forests known as maerl beds in the hope they can be mapped and protected from dredgers.
On Tuesday the Scottish government is due to launch a major consultation on how 11 marine protected areas (MPAs) around the coast should be managed. The Sunday Herald understands that it will fall far short of what environmental groups were hoping for.
“We have always said that without effective management, MPAs are simply paper parks,” said Calum Duncan, convenor of Scottish Environment Link’s marine taskforce and Scottish programme manager for the Marine Conservation Society.