THE Scottish Greens have made an eight-minute online film in defence of controversial fishing ban proposals – claiming the practice will benefit the fishing industry and the environment.

The video sees Green MSPs Ross Greer and Ariane Burgess visit the Lamlash Bay “no-take zone” where all forms of fishing from trawling to hobbyist angling have been banned since 2008.

It comes against the backdrop of the ongoing row over the creation of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs). The Government aims to ban fishing outright in a tenth of Scottish waters by 2026.

Howard Wood, a diver and one of the founders of the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (Coast), features in the video. He said he had been moved to take action on dwindling volumes of fish in the year, owing to over-fishing.

Wood, awarded an OBE for his services to the marine environment in 2015, talked about his experience of the abolition of the three-mile limit in the 1980s. Before it was abolished, strict limits were placed on fishing within three miles of most of Britain’s coastline.

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Wood said: “My very good friend Don [MacNeish] came along and said we need to do something.

“We’d been talking for quite a few years about how what we were seeing when we were diving was diminishing year on year and week on week, through the late 1980s and 1990s.

“Areas that we would go to when we were in our twenties and there would be loads of scallops and you would see loads of plaice, you’d occasionally see a big turbot, lemon sole, flounders – all kinds of fish.

“Within four or five years of the three-mile limit going these species literally started disappearing.”

In a press release, Burgess said the creation of HPMAs was “not about putting an end to fishing”.

She added: “There are successful no-take zones in place all over the world. They are not about putting an end to fishing. Instead, they are about protecting a small number of specific areas to allow our fish stocks to recover.

“Fishing communities can and must be at the heart of decision making, like they have been in Lamlash Bay. That is how we can ensure that we have a sustainable fishing sector for decades to come.”

In the video, Ross – one of the West of Scotland’s MSPs – says HPMAs could have economic benefits for the fishing industry as well as protecting the underwater environment.

He said: “The results [of the Lamlash no-take zone] have been amazing for everybody. We’ve seen not just astounding recovery of the marine ecosystem but we’ve also had massive economic benefits from the marine tourism that’s resulted from that.

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“The local fishing community are delighted because of the positive spill over effect that we’re seeing in the areas that they are able to fish in.

“It’s been win-win-win.”

But the issue remains deeply controversial with many rural politicians opposed to the plans.

The SNP MP for Argyll and Bute Brendan O’Hara wrote to his constituents this week urging them voice their opposition to the plans – saying he wanted the First Minister to understand what he said was the strength of feeling against HPMAs in the area.