Douglas Ross slams Humza Yousaf's fishing ban plans
Humza Yousaf has been slammed by the Scottish Tories over his plans to ban fishing in large swathes of Scotland’s seas which have sparked an SNP rebellion. At First Minister’s Questions today, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross branded the proposals “reckless”.
Mr Ross accused the new First Minister of being “out of touch” with coastal communities and members of his own party.
And he mocked the SNP leader saying it had taken eight years for his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon to face a rebellion, but less than eight weeks for the same fate to befall Mr Yousaf after three of his own MSPs voted against him at Holyrood yesterday.
The Scottish Government has proposed creating highly protected marine areas (HPMAs) in at least 10 percent of Scotland’s waters.
But the move has prompted concerns from those in rural areas, opposition politicians and some within his own party.
Mr Ross said: “These reckless SNP-Green plans would ban fishing across much of our seas. They would put thousands of jobs at risk. They would devastate coastal, fishing and rural communities.
“Humza Yousaf is out-of-touch with coastal communities and he’s even out of touch with many members of his own party.
“It took eight years for Nicola Sturgeon to face a major SNP rebellion. It’s taken Humza Yousaf less than eight weeks.
“He’s losing his grip on his own party because he insists on pursuing an extreme policy that’s opposed by the very communities he wants to impose it on.
“Instead of arrogantly dismissing valid concerns, Humza Yousaf should do the right thing and scrap these anti-fishing plans.”
Mr Yousaf has said that such zones will not be foisted on communities that do not want them.
But challenged by Mr Ross, the First Minister refused to define a community, or what level of discontent would mean they can avoid becoming part of an HPMA.
Mr Yousaf said: “What we’ve made absolutely clear is that this Government will not impose HPMAs on any community that vehemently opposes them.
“We’ve done the consultation, it’s had a significant response, it’s only right we now analyse those responses and while doing so Mairi McAllan has committed, and I will commit also, that we engage with our coastal and island communities that may well be affected by HPMAs
“In terms of what mechanism we will use – how we define community in terms of opposition or, indeed, consent – that will be something that we will engage with the community.
“That is why we’ve done a consultation – we have done a consultation at early inception stage – it would be completely wrong of us to pre-empt what concept mechanism we end up putting in place or setting the parameters here today, that would risk excluding some voices that should be heard.”
Mr Yousaf went on to say he would “not apologise” for attempting to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss.
Former SNP leadership hopeful and ex-ministers Fergus Ewing and Alasdair Allan have all raised concerns over the HPMAs.
All three voted against a Scottish Government motion supporting the proposals in a Holyrood debate on Wednesday, while other SNP representatives abstained.
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