MSP Tavish Scott will be meeting representatives of SNH in Lerwick tomorrow amid growing unease over the designations of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Shetland coastal waters.
People in Fair Isle actively want the Scottish government to designate their coastal waters as an MPA while SNH and the UK-wide Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) are instead consulting on a proposed coastal area near Fetlar.
The move has caused concern in North Isles communities, the Shetland fishing industry and others due to the lack of any public consultation. Last week SNH met Yell Community Council and North Yell Development Company regarding the proposals.
Mr Scott said: “Fair Isle has always wanted marine protection. The community supports it and has campaigned for such a MPA designation. Yet SNH and the JNCC want to designate an area next to Fetlar.
“I am meeting representatives of the JNCC in the coming weeks and SNH tomorrow. The simple question is why, when Fair Isle has made a compelling case to be an MPA, have SNH and the JNCC ignored this in favour of Fetlar where local people are concerned that an MPA will make it more difficult to develop businesses dependant on the sea?
“Surely it is best to work with island communities to achieve a shared objective – marine protection – than to ignore a campaign that has been going on for many years.
“In addition to my meetings, I have also asked that the Scottish government makes a socio-economic assessment of any proposed designation given the worries over greater and increasing bureaucracy that local businesses face.”