AN SNP MP has hit out at the Scottish Government’s suggestion fishing communities should aid the construction of fishing ban plans – likening it to getting ‘ban the bomb’ activists to help build nuclear weapons.

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil claimed the Government’s target of implementing Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in a tenth of Scotland’s waters had no basis in science and blamed the Scottish Greens for setting the figure.

Rural Affairs Secretary Màiri McAllan wrote to the MP after he set out his concerns over the project and assured him HPMAs would “not be imposed on communities that do not want them”.

McNeil said if communities that would be affected by the proposals did not want them, ministers in Edinburgh should ditch their plans.

The Scottish Greens said McNeil was spreading “misinformation and anxiety” by suggesting HPMAs would be imposed on communities that did not want them and insisted the plans were vital to “healthier seas and a flourishing ecosystem”.

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

McNeil told The National he had found it impossible to speak with the Scottish Government about the proposals.

He said: “Having dialogue with the Scottish Government on this is like nailing jelly to the wall. On the one hand, they tell you they won’t be imposing them on communities that do not want them, on the other they want communities to help shape the creation of these areas.

“It’s a wee bitty like asking CND, ‘We know you don’t like nuclear weapons but help us design them.’

“Government has got to be less tin-eared. People don’t want them – that’s the end of the story.

“It’s a very ambiguous message – there’s no communities that want them, then they want communities to shape the creation of these areas.

“If you’re not going to impose them and nobody wants them, that therefore means they’re finished, over.”

“They’re unnecessary, if anybody damages the environment they’re not going be taking any fish or shellfish out of the area. All they’re really going to do is make them human exclusion zones and that is what the problem is.

“If this were 10% of the land, or it was 10% of the cities, or it was 10% of newspaper pages that had to remain blank then and no journalist knew whether it was them or their colleagues’ stuff that was being chucked out, then there would be justifiable concern.

“But this is under the guise of they’re doing something good for the environment. Firstly we would argue we can’t see any evidence for that and this 10% [target] comes from no science at all, it comes from the squalid, fag packet that is grandly termed the Bute House Agreement.

READ MORE: If Scotland is to have a fishing industry in decades to come, we need to take action

“It comes out of the top of some politician’s head who, because they brand themselves ‘green’, then pretend they’ve some infallible knowledge about the environment. They don’t. They shouldn’t be called greens they should be called so-called greens.”

Ariane Burgess, Scottish Greens MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said: “We all benefit from cleaner and healthier seas and a flourishing ecosystem. No-take zones are vital to protecting our waters and ensuring a successful and sustainable fishing industry for generations to come.

"Where no-take zones have been tried they have been a big success and have seen real benefits to marine ecosystems and local fisheries. That is what has happened around the world, including at Lamlash bay in Arran, and we want other communities to see the same benefits.

"Nobody is talking about imposing no-take zones on communities that don't want them, and it doesn't help the debate for people to pretend otherwise, least of all politicians. All that does is spread misinformation and anxiety.

"My Scottish Green colleagues and I are working in close cooperation with the Scottish Government and with coastal communities to ensure that local people are right at the heart of the process and site selection.

"It is only by working together that we can ensure a better and more sustainable future for our fishing industry while delivering benefits for people and planet."

The plans have proven controversial with rural politicians, many of whom represent constituencies where fishing is a significant industry. 

Inverness MSP Fergus Ewing tore up the Government's plans in the Holyrood chamber earlier this month in dramatic protest against the proposals. 

The Scottish Government did not respond to a request for comment.