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November 7th 2023

The Scottish Government has today formally confirmed that proposals for Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) have been scrapped.

After consultation responses were published, Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan said: “In response to the findings of the consultation, and as I set out in parliament earlier this year, the proposal to implement HPMAs across 10 per cent of Scotland’s seas by 2026 will not be progressed.”

There were 4,502 responses to the consultation, although this included 2,018 standard campaign responses organised via Scottish Environment LINK.

Of the personalised ‘substantive’ responses received, more than three-quarters (76 per cent) said they opposed the aims and purpose of HPMAs.

The Scottish salmon sector – which is the UK’s biggest food export and provides a larger direct and indirect economic contribution than fishing – repeatedly raised concerns about the proposal.

Closing 10 per cent of coastal waters to human activity would impose an extra barrier on aquaculture expansion, which is already highly regulated.

Scottish salmon farms support 12,500 jobs, many in coastal communities, adding more than £760million-a-year to the country’s economy.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said:

“This analysis confirms that individuals were overwhelmingly opposed to the introduction of HPMAs, and the government was right to listen to these concerns and shelve the proposals.

“This confirmation is a huge relief for salmon farmers and all those who rely on our sector who were concerned about the impact on their livelihoods.

“I am grateful to all the MSPs who spoke up in support of our sector and rural Scotland.

“We once again commit to working with the Scottish Government to develop workable proposals that safeguard both livelihoods and the marine environment on which they rely.”