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The truths they don't want you to read....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

SHAMED are angry (and quite right too) - press release

Time to name and shame those who have conceded two marine Special Areas of Conservation (SAC's) in the Southern Hebrides

The recent announcement from Environment Minister, Stewart Stevenson, that the Government has approved a marine SAC at East Mingulay and that the site will be forwarded to the EU for approval, has prompted an angry reaction from SHAMED, a local campaign which is opposing plans to designate two marine SAC's in the sea east of Mingulay and in the Sound of Barra.

The Minister has also stated that proposals for the Sound of Barra will be going out to public consultation in the near future. SHAMED has noted the political statements simultaneously issued by the MP and MSP for the Western Isles alongside the Minister's announcement.

Reacting to these statements, Angus MacLeod, chairman of SHAMED and a crofter-fisherman from Barra, said :

"It is with utter disbelief that I read what Angus MacNeil MP has again been saying about EU requirements. He has been quoted as stating that once the EU 'have decided on a course of action, governments in either Edinburgh or London or their attendant civil servants are powerless to do much about it.'

Mr MacLeod explained : "Early in 2009, our MP issued a press release saying he was writing to the EU to demand that Brussels bureaucrats come to Barra to explain to us why the designations were needed. At the same time, our MSP went to Brussels to tell EU officials face-to-face that the designations were not wanted. Both were clearly told by the EU that the selection and designation of SAC's is up to the member states and regions within member states, a fact that was well known within the community. So, whatever spin politicians try to put on this, the decision to consult on East Mingulay and now the Sound of Barra is entirely a Scottish Government matter."

After almost three years of research and campaigning, SHAMED has gained an insight into how the SAC designation process works and, thanks to information received under Freedom of Information, it can be seen that it is SNH that drives the selection process in Scotland.

"Certainly it is true to say that the EEC Habitats Directive of 1992 compels Member States to set aside areas as SAC's but how this is handled within the UK and how UK policy affects Scotland is a local issue but one that has never been raised by our parliamentary representatives or, indeed, the Scottish Government," added Mr MacLeod.

Given that Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, has been prepared to speak out for Scottish fishermen and farmers at UK and EU level, SHAMED can only speculate as to why no-one in power is prepared to do the same over environmental issues.

"It is now apparent," continued Angus Macleod, " that the SNP government has bowed to pressure from environmental lobbies, with the local MP and MSP making empty promises in the run-up to elections. Clearly their policies are no different from any previous government. Thankfully at least our local SNP councillor, Donald Manford, has the backbone to stand up and publically voice his dissatisfaction; for this we applaud him and for giving us the proper representation that this community deserves."

As to what the group's next steps would be, Mr MacLeod reports that SHAMED has twice been refused a meeting with Richard Lochhead but that in the Cabinet Secretary's last response, he confirmed that the Environment Minister would meet with them and that a date was be set. One of the issues for discussion with the Minister and Marine Scotland officials would have been evidence previously submitted to them showing their data on vessel activity within the Mingulay site was inaccurate.

"We were under the impression that the Minister was to be supplied with the corrected data and that we would have had the opportunity to discuss the issues with him before he made his decision. We therefore feel betrayed by the Scottish Government for taking such a misinformed decision," added Mr MacLeod.

He confirmed that SHAMED was stepping up its fight and that no stone would be left unturned in order to expose what the campaign group feels are the irregularities within the designation process for the two SAC's.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for the people of Barra Democracy does not appear to be a particularly high priority for our parliamentary representatives.
It is an accepted fact that once a people feel that they have no say in the running of affairs that affect them civil disobedience is the only course that they feel is open.

Anonymous said...

Both the MP & MSP used this to get support at Election time, guess what is coming next May?

Anonymous said...

Talking about democracy and how people are being represented in Westminster, can anyone tell me what the point of these questions are?

Is it the MP or me that's dense?

Anonymous said...

I am no fan of SNH but have always wondered about the self destruct button that the fishermen are continuosly pressing down on.

Mallaig as a fishing port is a shadow of what it once was, Oban is given over to tourists, and Stornoway is pretty much down the pan.

There has been a lot of huffing and puffing from the so called industry representatives, moaning about increased regulation, with the Free press leading the charge. However, the above mentioned ports are in their current situation because the stock is simply not there any more.

Industry self regulation has never existed and even simple measures - such as a ban on landing berried lobsters - could be implemented either on a voluntary basis or by local by-laws which are not difficult to put in place if there is the will to do so. Simple, practical, low cost stock conservation is not difficult; but there should be no surprise when the EU eventually imposes conservation if it cannot be implemented at a local level.

You have a very strong case to argue against the SAC designation if you have already begun to address the issue: if not, then any argument against an SAC being imposed will not stand critical scrutiny.

The decimation of the seabed by scallop dredgers was a disaster that everyone stood by, watched, and did nothing about - that includes SNH and the usual whale hugging wooly jumpered suspects.

Personally, I would welcome several conservation areas, particularly in known breeding grounds, which would be closed permanently. Creel numbers reduced from the current numbers madness, and licenced as in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, and a reintroduction of the three mile limit for mobile gear.
Then you might just salvage and restore an industry that has vitality and a long term future.

The current industry leaders have let both themselves, the fishermen, and the community down badly. Any turnaround will have to come from within the industry and directly from forward thinking fishermen themselves.

Anonymous said...

Dear Angus,

Im having a hectic time and write this after a few days on the coral beaches in Cuba. It's hard work doing deals sorting out Fidel and wee Raul all the time and that bellboy Obama has no idea of how important and busy I am. You'd hardly believe it but he kept me waiting ten minutes before taking my call. His lame excuse was that Putin was on for a chat. Btw Putin is also my pal.

Fidel wanted my new best mate Barak to sort him some power of the electricity type, but more of that later. All of which puts me in mind of this Mingulay caper. Don't let on, but ACME is going to blitz the place with floating wind mills. But first off, because the elusive coral will not damage my cables, I have to show that coral is more important than those fishermen and kick them off the park. Simple as. The coral is a bit ike Iraqi WMD, its there but we just can't find it. But like Iraq I simply can not let the truth stop me getting to my oil, oops, my energy. I remember having to slap that wimp Tony B Liar across the chops to get him to sign the papers to get the show on the road. Great fun. What power.

I've made that serial quangoist Andrew Thin SNH boss so that he gets all the blame for my dirty work. And its working. Do you remember him standing in the front row at conference clapping Maggie panting 'ten more years'. Remember, he got very excited and was known as Stick Insect for years after. Then they knifed her. Great fun. Ha!

Still, stories to spin, deals to do, and I must dash. But I'll write soon. And tell you all about me and Dong. And the Sound of Barra. Excellent, Excellent.

Yours ever

Wee WoC

Anonymous said...

"evidence previously submitted to them showing their data on vessel activity within the Mingulay site was inaccurate."

Where did this inaccurate data come from?

Where does the new accurate data come from?

thenamesGerard said...

Today (16/09/11) SNH initiated the consultation by emiling a letter to those who they think will be interested in contributing to the consultation (sham). The link to the actual document containing the info they want your comments on "the facts" was broken or simply wrong.

I think this says as much about the rigorous standards applied at SNH as you need to know. Fast and loose with the rhetoric and careless with the facts.

Anonymous said...

@12:00pm, the disparity within the data was questioned by the fishermen themselves. When they looked at specific times when their vessels were within the specified areas, their vessels had not been 'logged'.
This could be due to several issues; the software used is not sufficiently robust (unlikely), that there was deliberate manipulation of the data to skew results or the whole issue of recording the position of vessels does not work as described.
This means that the data regarding vessels within these areas is wrong and the data is therefore useless in scientific debate.

Anonymous said...

5.18 this makes it impossible for the lay person to arrive at a reasonable judgement. How many crofter/fishermen are we talking about and what the hell are they doing to the environment that they have to be stopped by the EU? Something about this I'm not getting.

Anonymous said...

7.00pm, the local fishermen are doing nothing that has not been done for a considerable time. Why does these areas need special conservation status? Good question,ask SNH and the Scottish Government, who of course will drag out the same tired rhetoric of 'Europe says we must'. North Atlantic gray seal numbers are up, the coral is still there, the only thing shifting the sandbanks is nature itself.
Common seal numbers are down, however when you have two species competing for the same resources, one species often dominates. This would appear to be the case with the seals.

Anonymous said...

It's nothing to do with what Barra fishermen are doing. The relevant EU law describes certain species and habitats which are considered in need of protection. All member states are then required to identify the best areas within their territory for the target species/habitats and then designate them. After this activities on the site must be assessed to see if they will be to the detriment of the species and habitats now protected.

Anonymous said...

In effect 8.32pm, its all about percentages and little to do with realistic conservation.

As far as politicians go they have all proven to be quite gutless regarding this issue. The only thing that MacNeil has uttered about this subject is the same old drivel that its European driven not Scots Government led. How interesting then that the document trail actually starts with SHN and not with Europe.