LIBERAL Democrat MP Jamie Stone has urged Rishi Sunak to “step in” over the Scottish Government’s controversial plan to ban fishing off 10 per cent of Scotland’s coast. 

The plea for the UK Government to involve itself in a devolved policy area was met with jeers from the SNP benches during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions.  

Mr Stone told the Conservative leader about former Scottish rural affairs minister Fergus Ewing ripped up a copy of the consultation on Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs).

READ MORE: Raging former SNP minister rips up HPMA plan in Holyrood chamber

The conservation proposal is a key plank of the Bute House Agreement that sets out the commitments made by the SNP to the Greens as part of their power-sharing deal. 

HPMAs would see strict limits on human activity in at least 10% of Scotland’s waters.

The areas are supposed to be designated by the end of the current parliament in 2026.

However, the issue has proved hugely unpopular in coastal and island communities and have even been compared to the Highland Clearances by campaigners. 

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

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

Mr Stone told MPs: “The Prime Minister may well have seen the astonishing sight of a former Scottish Government minister standing up in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament and tearing up – literally ripping into pieces – the Scottish Government’s Highly Protected Marine Areas proposal.

“This proposal is deeply controversial all over Scotland and has even led to it being compared with a second Highland Clearances. Is this not now the time for the UK Government to step in…”

Mr Stone was then interpreted by SNP MPs – with one shouting, “There you have it”.

The Lib Dem continued: “Mr Speaker, I will not be silenced because it matters, this matters deeply to my constituents, deeply.

“Is it not time for the UK Government to step in and work with the devolved administrations to come up with a scheme that works and is acceptable, a conservation scheme that is acceptable in our fishing communities all round the UK.”

Mr Sunak replied: "He is a passionate champion, as he should be, for his local fishing communities and he's right to highlight the concerns that have been raised not just by them but by members of the SNP's own party about the potentially damaging impact of their plans to introduce the Highly Protected Marine Areas in the way that they are. 

"I would encourage the SNP Government to continue working with the Scottish fishing industry and coastal communities to understand their concerns. 

"And as we've seen them recently U-turn on other poor-thought-out decisions, hopefully they can re-look at this one too."