Monday, 22 November 2010

Fishermen in Scotland's western Isles campaign over coral reef protection

Today the Scottish Herald reported that Fishermen in the Western Isles have accused Scottish National Heritage of ‘cultural imperialism’ . The accusation was made over plans for a new conservation area at sea that they claim will have a devastating impact on jobs and the local economy, particularly to local fishermen in the prawn industry.

The group Southern Hebrides Against Marine Environmental Designations (SHAMED) will fight the proposed designation of a site around East Mingulay as a new marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC), which has already been approved by the Scottish Government.

Aimed at protecting a rare coral reef, East Mingulay is the only location inside UK waters to feature the cold-water coral Lophelia Pertusa and scientists have identified at least 400 species living within the reef complex.

Around 900 local people have signed a petition opposing the plans, with fisherman directly influenced by the plans insisting that they strive to develop the renewable side of fishing and have no qualms about protecting the reefs, but that the conservation area will cut them off from important fishing areas.

Local fisherman claim that economic and cultural objections are being ignored and John Hermse, of the Mallaig and North West Fishermen’s Association, accused the government of enacting a policy of “cultural imperialism”, adding: “The contemporary movement towards environmentalism at any cost, threatens the fragile existence of the traditional communities of rural Scotland and does so without robust scientific evidence that the environment will be any better preserved as a result.”

Read the full article here

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