Plans to cut off 10 per cent of Scotland’s waters from fishing communities have been criticised by Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron.
The Scottish Government has announced plans to ban fishing and a whole range of other activities in areas it would deem to be Highly Protected Marine Areas.
But a number of coastal communities have hit out at the plans, saying it would drive businesses to the wall and cause significant job losses.
And they have made the crucial point that all investment is going to be brought to end throughout the coastal regions as no one knows where or whether these draconian restrictions - which might include limits on the number people swimming in the sea – will be introduced.
Mr Cameron has called for a rethink on the plan which has caused alarm across Argyll & Bute and the Western Isles.
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said the move was based on “politics not substance”.
Scotland already has protection zones covering more than a third of its seas, and Cameron urged ministers to focus on improving that rather than extending the scheme.
Cameron said: “Communities across the Highlands and Islands have expressed very genuine concern about these plans, and they must be heard.
“This is a damaging proposal which will undoubtedly cost jobs, livelihoods, and opportunities.
“The impact on local economies would be severe, and the whole thing needs to be scrapped.
“Instead of pitting these important communities against each other, the Scottish Government should be working with them.
“It is the case that more must be done to hit environmental and diversity targets, but it has to be done responsibly and with the expert input of our coastal communities.
“This is just yet another SNP-Green policy dreamed up in the Central Belt without a thought for how it would harm those elsewhere in Scotland.”