A Largs fisherman has urged the Scottish Government to give communities a say on controversial plans to impose tight limits on fishing off many parts of Scotland's coast.

The Scottish Government is considering proposals for 'highly protected marine areas' (HPMAs), which would restrict fishing and other activities at certain sites across Scotland’s waters, to protect wildlife and the environment.

The move would also restrict catch and release angling, seaweed harvesting, new marine renewable energy schemes and the laying of new undersea cables.

However, fishing communities have been left up in arms about the proposals, with the Scottish Fishermen's Federation warning HPMAs could have a "catastrophic impact" on the industry.

An existing protection area is already in place in Lamlash Bay off Arran.

Largs-based fisherman Ian Wightman, who has been fishing the Clyde for more than 40 years, believes that although the scheme has good intentions, it will leave waterfront communities in a “time capsule”.

He said: “I was heavily involved in the original HMPA at Lamlash, and so I know quite a bit about the current process.

“I can obviously see the benefits of them but the problem is it will put all of our islands and possibly coastlines into a time capsule.

“It’s not all about fishing, and there will be no disturbing of the seabed which includes things like new infrastructure or casual fishing.

“We could have industry wanting to develop on islands like Cumbrae and they won’t be able to because it’s not allowed.”

As part of the Bute House Agreement between the SNP and Green parties, Holyrood ministers have committed to designate at least 10 per cent of Scotland's seas as HPMAs by 2026.

A consultation on the scheme closed earlier this year, with a further consultation on proposed sites likely to take place in 2025.

Ian says consulting fishermen and others in the industry will be vital to ensure the HPMAs are put in the right places.

He explained: “The big issue at the moment is that they are doing this with little consultation, and my fear is that they won’t put them in the right place.

“There will be no fishing at all in the HPMAs, which means boats will all have to flock to certain areas where they are allowed to.

“This will put an enormous amount of pressure on the areas that are left, and could mean there are not enough fish to go around.

“Everyone needs to make a living and if you can’t do it on your doorstep then that could lead to real issues.”

“There has to be transparency, and consultation, and we can’t bring in these measures at the expense of the industry and communities.

“We need to have the science to show where the best places to put them are, but at the moment there is a lack of funding so we don’t have the data to justify these draconian measures.”

Mairi McAllan, the government's net zero and just transition secretary, insists she will engage with communities to make the process as transparent as possible.

She said: "We must be prepared to take action that corresponds with the scale of the climate and nature crisis, but we must do so via a fair and just transition.

"I recognise there is considerable strength of feeling, which is why I wanted to consult so early in the process on the principles of HPMAs and the criteria that might constitute site selection.”