Speaking in the debate led by Chris Grayling MP, Mr Carmichael noted the “salami slicing” effect of restrictions on fishing caused by ecological and energy requirements in calling for a bigger picture approach.
Intervening in the debate, Mr Carmichael said:
“Can I suggest to him that he might want to look northwards to see the experience with Scottish government in their consultation on HPMAs? There is a great deal of advantage in “hastening slowly” here. You really have to bring fishing coastal and island communities with you, otherwise it is ultimately counterproductive to the interests of fish conservation. There will be more support in coastal and island communities if you can demonstrate the benefit in a small number of areas first.”
Responding, Chris Grayling MP said:
“I absolutely take his point about doing this in stages and in partnership with communities. In areas where there are HPMAs they are seeing the benefit. I’m not in favour of just barging in and closing areas tomorrow. Let’s work with communities, but let us not approach this on the basis that there should be no more MPAs and HPMAs, because I think you can make this work for both sides.”
Mr Carmichael added:
“The point that he has to bear in mind here, is that for the rewilding purposes that he would exclude fishermen, fishermen find themselves excluded for other reasons as well, because of aquaculture, because of cables, because of offshore renewables, so it is a “salami slicing” effect. If we are to be effective in creating MPAs and HPMAs we have to look at it in the round, and not just at HPMAs in isolation.”
Mr Grayling said:
“I don’t think this is something that we can simply not do. The need to restore the ecology of our shores is such that we must take some bold steps – fully in consultation with coastal communities, working with them to identify the best places to do this.”
Reacting after the debate Mr Carmichael said:
“The debate today may have focused on MPAs in England but it appears that the same problems we have seen in Scotland are developing. MPAs and HPMAs are in principle laudable goals and can be a positive part of how we manage the seas around us, but they have to be developed in partnership with all who have a stake in marine management. It is that meaningful consultation and cooperation that has been severely lacking to date in both England and Scotland.
“We have to hope that renewed consultation plans in Scotland can be the start of a better approach. Fishermen, energy interests and conservation can all be brought together in a common plan. It cannot, however, be under the assumption that the needs of islanders and fishing communities are secondary to all others.”