The SNP urged clarification on whether abandoned fishing ban plans would be revived

The Scottish Conservatives’ call comes after a Green MP claimed there was still an obligation to move forward.

SNP Net Zero secretary Mairi McAllan announced last week that Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) would be abolished following uproar from Scottish fishing communities.

The plans, agreed at Bute House as part of the power-sharing agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens, would have resulted in a ban on human activity in at least 10% of Scottish waters.

But in an interview with the BBC over the weekend, Scottish Green Party MSP Ariane Burgess said she was “confident that the marine protection measures that we both advocate will be implemented”.

READ ALSO: Scottish Government puts controversial fishing ban plans on hold

She added, “And what we’re doing is taking the conversation to the communities and designing something together that will ensure that 20, 30 or 100 years from now, we’ll be able to fish long-term.”

“We are both absolutely convinced that the protection of the seas must be promoted.”

Scottish Conservatives spokeswoman for rural affairs Rachael Hamilton has now written to Ms McAllan asking for clarity on the future of the policy.

She said: “Scotland’s fishing communities are vehemently opposed to the proposals.

“You and I feared that your announcement last week was merely a delaying tactic to placate the rebellious SNP MSPs ahead of a cosmetic rebrand – and those fears appear to be justified by Ariane Burgess’ comments.

“As the consultation on HPMAs demonstrated, these devastating restrictions would cause immeasurable damage to our fishing communities.

“Fishermen are already facing a huge space constraint and further reducing the area available to them to fish could result in many fishermen going out of business.”

Ms Hamilton added: “The least we owe our concerned fishing communities is clear, honest and unequivocal communications from the Scottish Government of their intentions for the industry.”

Read more: SNP rebellion as McAllan defends consultation on fishing ban plans

“They’re not getting that right now, so it’s your duty to make things clear.”

In her speech last week, Ms McAllan said: “While we remain firmly committed to the outcome of improved marine conservation, the proposal as consulted will not be pursued.”

She added: A particular concern of those who support HPMA, and those who do not, is that implementing the proposal within the proposed timeframe could limit our aspirations to genuinely work with communities, which is an integral part of Scotland’s approach fair and just transition.

“This means that by 2026 we will no longer be attempting to introduce HPMAs in 10% of Scottish seas.”

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