Jamie McGrigor, Conservative & Unionist MSP for Highlands and Islands, had called for planned restrictions on bottom-towed fishing to be annulled. Members of Holyrood’s rural affairs committee voted against the move.
Mr McGrigor had sought restrictictions on bottom-towed fishing in 14 sites to be annulled, including Loch Sween, South Arran, Upper Loch Fyne and St Kilda.
Scottish Environment Link urged the committee not to support Mr McGrigor’s motion.
Ahead of the debate demonstrations both for and against MPAs were held outside the Scottish Parliament.
A spokesperson Scottish government said their: “consultation involved individual fishermen and their representatives, and included local engagement.
“There is a need to balance the interests of protecting Scotland’s marine environment with wider interests, particularly those of the fishing industry, but failure to protect coastal areas would result in permanent damage to habitats and the fish stocks they support.”
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: “It is entirely possible to allow limited and carefully controlled fishing within parts of MPAs where there are no features of conservation importance, and to impose a blanket ban over a whole area is totally irrational and unnecessary.
“One of the founding objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy is to enable the continuation of fishing whilst ensuring environmental sustainability – a principle the Scottish government is completely ignoring.
“It is also ignoring the widespread local community opposition to these proposals.”
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