AN SNP MP has warned that the Scottish Government's fishing ban plans could accelerate the depopulation of Scotland’s rural communities, as he urged constituents to voice their opposition to the proposals.

Brendan O’Hara, who represents Argyll and Bute in Westminster, said he has written 11,000 letters to be delivered across his constituency urging locals to get in touch to share their concerns about proposals to create Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) which would ban fishing in a tenth of Scotland’s waters.

The MP is opposed to the plans – along with many other politicians representing coastal areas – and has said they could devastate Scotland’s “already economically fragile” fishing communities.

READ MORE: Highland Council voices 'strong opposition' to HPMAs citing coastal community risk

But he added he was “pleased and encouraged” by the Scottish Government’s approach to the issue, highlighting commitments from ministers to listen to those who would be affected by HPMAs.

O’Hara urged his constituents to write to him to express their opposition to the plans – urging locals “not to miss this opportunity to have the voice of Argyll and Bute, our fishing industry and our rural communities heard”.

He added that he had already expressed his own “profound opposition” to HPMAs through a response to the Scottish Government’s official consultation, and in letters to the First Minister and the Rural Affairs Secretary.

He said: “In my submissions, I cited the irreparable damage I believe this would do to our fishing communities, and how the imposition of HPMAs would only accelerate the already critical depopulation of Argyll and Bute, thereby threatening the long-term economic viability of many of our communities.”

In a statement to the media, O’Hara said: “I am pleased and encouraged that both the First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary have indicated a willingness to listen to and be guided by the people who will be most affected by these HPMAs, should they go ahead.

READ MORE: SNP MSP Fergus Ewing rips up HPMA plan in Holyrood chamber

“We have been given an opportunity to make sure that our voice is heard. It is essential that the people of Argyll and Bute speak out now and leave the government in absolutely no doubt as to the dire economic and social consequences that HPMAs would bring to our already economically fragile communities.”

The Scottish Government was approached for comment.