KATE Forbes has appeared to soften her stance on controversial fishing ban plans after saying she would axe them during the SNP leadership race. 

Speaking to BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on Tuesday, the former finance secretary said the Scottish Government had “turned a corner” in its approach to Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs).

HPMAs will see strict limits on human activity such as fishing and swimming in at least a tenth of Scottish waters.

Forbes highlighted the “huge backlash” against the plans in some coastal communities - but said she believed the Scottish Government was now listening to the concerns of those communities.

During the leadership election, Forbes said she wanted to scrap the proposals.

But she has appeared to soften her position and showed a willingness to work with the Government.

READ MORE: Tories call on SNP MSPs to back their motion on scrapping HPMAs

“In the leadership contest, I said I would have scrapped HPMAs completely if elected,” she said.

“Obviously, I didn’t win.

“My position has always been that I think they are potentially jeopardising coastal communities.

“It’s important that the Scottish Government works with coastal communities going forward.

“Fishing supports so many livelihoods in these communities, so my concern and the concern that has been expressed by some of these communities is that if we cut off that lifeline to the sea then it could jeopardise population recovery.

“I have to credit the Scottish Government and particularly Màiri McAllan for her approach recently.

“If the Scottish Government can continue to express their desire to work hand in glove with communities, particularly fishermen, then I think there is a way forward.”

Forbes was also asked about claims in The Times over the weekend that her supporters were planning a coup against Humza Yousaf to take over the running of the Government.

The former finance secretary said: “It is absolute nonsense, of course, with no basis in anything I have done or said.

READ MORE: People are worried about their livelihoods amid HMPAs concern, says SNP MP

“I’m a democrat. I respect Humza Yousaf as our leader. I respect the result. I respect the voters.

“I recognise I have support, but what I would say to my well-intentioned supporters is that we have to get behind the leadership.

“We’ve got enough challenges in the country and in the party that we must back him, we must support him and I think he’s got a hugely difficult job.

“I support Humza Yousaf as our leader and I would call on my supporters to back him as well and give him the time and the space to negate these current issues.”

Rachael Hamilton, the Scottish Tories' rural economy spokesperson, told Good Morning Scotland she wants the HPMA plans to be scrapped.

But she was presented with a policy from her party's manifesto in 2021 which suggested the party would review current protected marine areas in Scotland and expand their extent – as well as piloting HPMAs.

Hamilton insisted nothing had changed on their approach to the policy.

“There is nothing in those words that say we want to see a further 10% protected areas on top of the already protected areas,” she said.

“We have looked very carefully at responses to the consultation from fishing communities.

“We are nervous about introducing a pilot with the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and spatial squeeze fishermen are facing right now.”

Hamilton pointed to pilots across the UK and said the socio-economic impact could be monitored because the “sea goes right round the UK”.

MSPs will consider a motion calling for the controversial plans to be scrapped in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.