There’s definitely something fishy about the row over the Scottish Government’s plans to roll out highly protected marine areas (HPMAs).

Not for the first time in the first six weeks of Humza Yousaf’s administration, a key policy is put under pressure both from inside and outside the SNP.

This row doesn’t appear to be about the actual plans themselves which could essentially ban all activity in designated areas including fishing – but more around the lack of faith businesses and coastal communities in particular have that the Scottish Government will not simply impose them on places that don’t want them.

The Scottish Tories claim that fishermen do not want them. Given they don’t allow fishing to take place in the zones, that will not come as a shock.

The Scottish Government has insisted the HMPAs are needed because the country must better protect its seas. That is true.

Research shows that as of 2020, a number of marine species in Scottish waters are in decline. UK-wide, 11 out of 15 indicators of good environmental status are being missed.

Eyebrows have been raised at the Conservatives kicking off at the plans, given the UK Government is doing an almost-identical thing in waters south of the Border, albeit with less ambition.

The UK Government has not committed to 10 per cent of the waters, but unlike the Scottish Government, it has designated three zones so far and will explore additional sites for consideration.

Just two months ago, UK Government Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said the HPMAs “are a vital step forward in enabling our ecosystems to thrive, increasing climate resilience and ensuring we have a healthy and productive marine environment for generations to come”.

But Tory rural affairs spokesperson, Rachael Hamilton, has pointed out her party takes offence at fishermen facing ”a fishing ban that threatens their livelihoods for good”.

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On Wednesday, Rishi Sunak said that the Scottish Government’s plans were a “poor-thought-out” decision.

In order to fully roll out its plans, the Scottish Government will actually need the approval of the UK Government. This seems to have left the plans dead in the water, given the Prime Minister’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for cleaning up the Scottish seas.

Under the Scottish Government’s consultation document, yes the one that Fergus Ewing ripped up with his fists of rage, it makes clear that SNP ministers do “not have the necessary legal powers to designate and protect HPMAs”.

The Scottish Government says it wishes to “deliver the necessary legislative and management framework for HPMAs in both Scottish inshore and offshore waters”.

For the inshore region, up to 12 nautical miles from the coast, there is “full legislative competence” for Holyrood to draw up legislation.

But the document also points out that SNP ministers are “seeking agreement from the UK Government to provide for equivalent powers for Scottish Ministers to designate HPMAs in Scottish offshore waters”.

Given the Prime Minister’s opposition to the plans, the chances of that happening in a smooth and cooperative way look pretty slim.

As well as the Tories and the fishing industry kicking off at the proposals, SNP backbenchers, particularly those representing sizeable fishing communities, are also not happy. Six of them refused to back a government motion on the issue.

It is difficult to envy an SNP politician representing a coastal community with the HPMA plans, as well as the ferries fiasco hanging over them.

In the case of Western Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil, the strategy appears to be to simply wash your hands of your government and agree it’s all so terrible. It’s maybe not a bad shout.

The ferries fiasco has been a shambles for the Scottish Government, arguably top of the list.

It’s been used as a political football and has tallied up a ridiculous amount of public money being wasted. But it has really hit coastal and island communities hard.

It’s not over the top to say that the ferries are lifeline services, without which, communities are simply cut off and isolated.

So when the Scottish Government tells communities they will not “impose” something on them that they don’t want, there’s more than a pinch of sea salt required to take it seriously.

It’s not just the ferries that have left rural parts of Scotland seething...

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