RSPB Scotland, the country’s biggest nature conservation charity, has urged candidates for the SNP leadership not to roll back on plans for Highly Protected Marine Areas.
With both climate and nature in crisis, the current Scottish Government is consulting on proposals to give this highly protected status to at least 10 per cent of Scotland’s seas.
If properly implemented, HPMAs could renew Scotland’s much-depleted marine life, support the sea’s role in vital climate mitigation, and support a sustainable future for coastal communities and industries including sustainable fishing and wildlife tourism.
RSPB Scotland has members across the country and has been supporting the Scottish Environment LINK campaign – Create Ocean Recovery Zones For Scotland’s Seas – to encourage support for HPMAs.
RSPB Scotland’s Head of Policy and Advocacy, Aedan Smith, said: “Scotland is one of the most-nature-depleted countries in the world. Action to recover our species and habitats must be accelerated, not slowed down.
Arctic Tern, copyright Glyn Sellors, from the surfbirds galleries
“Calls this week to scrap HPMAs in the context of the nature and climate emergency are deeply worrying. We hope that it does not signal a fresh attack on nature, something our members and supporters revolted against last autumn when the UK Government under Liz Truss proposed a range of measures risking environmental protections.
“Our seas are home to an incredible variety of wildlife and habitats, including globally important populations of seabirds. By managing our seas sustainably, we can help renew our wildlife while also tackling climate change and providing food and employment. Healthy seas are good for communities. People living and working in coastal communities have taken action to protect and renew their seas.
“The clock is ticking. We need a clear signal from the leadership candidates that protecting and recovering our natural environment will be fast-tracked, not kicked into the long grass. Without a healthy environment, we are all so much poorer, and Scotland’s standing on the international stage will be greatly diminished.”