ONE of Scotland’s biggest traditional music bands has teamed up with a 64-year-old fisherman to produce a song protesting the introduction of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMA).

The Scottish Government’s public consultation on HPMAs will finish on April 17 and has proved divisive.

Their introduction would see 10% of Scotland’s seas designated as HPMAs and put an end to the vast majority of human activities that may cause negative impacts on the environment.

That would mean no fishing, no aquaculture, no oil and gas exploration, no commercial seaweed harvesting and no offshore wind infrastructure.

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Now, trad band Skipinnish have paired with Donald Francis MacNeil - who has made his recording debut to protest against the legislation.

The band’s co-founder Angus MacPhail has penned The Clearances Again to stand against the plans and give a voice to those who disagree with what is being proposed.

Writing in The National, MSP Kate Forbes recently expressed concern about the negative impact she believes HPMAs will have on the Highlands.

The song is written from the perspective of MacNeil from the Isle of Vatersay in the Western Isles.

The 64-year-old is a lifelong fisherman who has fished around Mingulay and the islands to the south of the Isle of Barra his whole life.

Speaking to The Fishing Daily, MacPhail said: “These proposals cannot be allowed to go ahead. They must be opposed and sunk.

“They pose the biggest peacetime risk to our communities since the Highland Clearances and give zero regard to the effective local management of these waters.

“As Donald sings at the end of The Clearances Again, ‘My song marks a fight for survival/A Mayday call we cry/We will stand for the rights of our children/We will not let our islands die’, this is a strong clarion call to everyone that holds the future of these communities dear to make their voices heard throughout the government’s consultation.”

The National: Kate Forbes has spoken out against HPMAsKate Forbes has spoken out against HPMAs

MacNeil also expressed his frustration at the proposals. He said: “Fishing has been my whole life. It supports my family and many in the community I have lived in since I was born.

“I know every reef, skerry and sandbank around these shores, better than any who are pushing these devastating proposals on us.”

He continued: “To be told by officials in Edinburgh that they know better than those of us in the fishing community is frankly insulting and proves they know nothing of how we operate and how fragile the economy of these communities is.

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“For the sake of my children and those who will come after us, I will do everything I can to stand against these ill-conceived and badly planned proposals.

“HPMAs have only one objective – to devastate our rural, coastal communities and clear them of the indigenous people who have protected them for millennia. This cannot be allowed to happen.”

Angus MacNeil, who serves as the MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, has also been critical of HPMAs.

Writing on Twitter, he said: “I don’t think Scot Gov legislative consultation has ever got people so annoyed – now protest song.

“All because the Highly Protected Marine Areas bill is such a spectacularly bad idea. An example of doing something to people rather than with people.”
The new song will be available to listen to on April 14.