Controversial plans to ban fishing in 10% of Scotland’s seas were an example of the Scottish Government's "high and mighty" attitude, a former SNP MP has claimed. 

Angus MacNeil - who was expelled from the SNP earlier this month - described the policy as "daft."

READ MORE: Angus MacNeil expelled from SNP after row with chief whip

The plans for the Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) sparked fury in coastal and island communities and were even compared to the Highland Clearances by campaigners. 

As well as banning fishing, the tough new regulations would have prohibited any industrial activities, including dredging and cabling for wind farms. Recreational activities would also be subject to strict monitoring and management.

The rollout of the HPMAs was a key part of the Bute House power-sharing agreement signed by the SNP and the Scottish Greens following the 2021 election.

They were effectively killed off in April when Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government would not "impose these policies on communities that don't want them." 

Speaking to Times Radio on Sunday, Mr MacNeil said: “They eventually U-turned, but they U-turned too late after annoying a whole load of people unnecessarily on what was a daft policy.

“It was clearly unsustainable that they were going to run with that.

“It was a sort of high and mighty attitude.

“Eventually Humza Yousaf saw the tidal wave, if you pardon the pun, coming his way and he climbed down, but he could have climbed down in a better way.

“He could have climbed down when he came in first as First Minister and said ‘this is daft’ and made a virtue of his U-turn rather than make it look like he’d been forced into a U-turn.”

READ MORE: HPMA: Yousaf in Highly Protected Marine Area 'u-turn'

Speaking later on the same radio station, former SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said there had to be some kind of measure in place for conservation of marine life.

“What was taking place was a consultation,” he said.

“When I speak to fishermen in my own constituency, they all recognise we’ve got to have effective management of the seas.

He added: “The fishermen that I speak to and that I represent, are very clear that we need to have something sustainable.

“What we need to do is make sure that those in these communities are being consulted with and this is done properly.

“We’ll find a way through this and there are opportunities to make sure that we are protecting the interests of those that are engaged in fishing, not just for current generations but for generations to come.”