A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

CFP, Article 17

”When allocating the fishing opportunities available to them, as referred to in Article 16, member states shall use transparent
and objective criteria including those of an environmental, social and economic nature. The criteria to be used may include,
inter alia, the impact of fishing on the environment, the history of compliance,the contribution to the local economy and historic
catch levels. Within the fishing opportunities allocated to them, member states shall endeavour to provide incentives to fishing
vessels deploying selective fishing gear or using fishing techniques with reduced environmental impact, such as reduced energy
consumption or habitat damage.”
The above is Article 17 of the Common Fisheries Policy and the paper  written by Chris Williams and Griffin Carpenter of the NEF uses this and the objectives of the Scottish Government shown below, used in relevance to the inshore fisheries, to show that spatial management to promote use of selective fishing gear favours better economic, environmental and hence social comparisons to current practices.
Five strategic objectives of the Scottish Government which includes fishing.
Wealthier and fairer: Enable people and businesses to increase their wealth and for more people to share more fairly in that wealth.
 Smarter: To expand opportunities for Scots to succeed from nurture to life long learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements
Healthier: Help people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring local and faster access to health care.
Safer and stronger: Help local communities to flourish,becoming stronger, safer place to live,offering improved opportunities and a better quality of life.
Greener: Improve Scotland’s natural and built environment and the sustainable use and enjoyment of it.
The paper is wide-ranging and uses current data already in the public domain that shows the creel fishery is less damaging to the environment, discards are few, value of catch is based on quality and not bulk, science showing smarter use of the resource. As ever there has to be improvements to the way we fish, release of berried females, control of creel numbers, size of langoustine landed and other methods introduced to mitigate against other marine users and mammals.
The paper does a summary of objectives and on a scale of 1 to 5 the creel fishery comes out on top in most categories. The transparency of the paper is important and all the criteria are listed and are as close to the objectives as are possible, ensuring that environmental, economic and social are all treated on an equal basis.
Basically the study compares to those already done in the Barents Sea to ones done in Portugal and Sweden, concluding that the more passive the fishing method the better the overall performance. As other studies have shown the creel fishery has little impact on the benthic environment. The paper is well worth a read and is getting a press outing this week. The only response so far is that the SFF think it is divisive, something you could say the Inshore Fisheries Act of 1984 is. So nothing new there. The link is http://b.3cdn.net/nefoundation/21d024b2ce367cac07_ybm6bd667.pdf and as I say well worth a read.
One of the things I enjoy so much is the variety I see in a day at sea. It was an early start, just after 5am, to get the langoustine up to the Inn for delivery to Loch Ness Inn, breakfast and then out before 7am. Beautiful calm morning
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and saw a couple of porpoises heading south
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and then noticed that gannets were diving and a small pod were working some fish off to the port side.
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Great to watch and signs are looking hopeful that the Sound is healthy fish wise this year. Small rafts of guillemots and razorbills are appearing and the seals seem to be prospering. Taking just what you need and not what you want fits this environment. The variety continues with the first silver darling of the year, hermit living in a “hobbit” home
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and colour in the ferns coming up in the shallower waters.
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Not sure of the provenance of this little bod, must struggle to get around.
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Successful day on the fishing front thrown in and a fleet not hauled for quite some time sorted out without too much hassle. Not only that but hooked up the 10 creels I had lost earlier in the year. In and landed by 3pm and a little nervous at the crowds at the Inn. Langoustine and scallops are going out as fast as they are being landed so another day at sea proposed for tomorrow and looks like being followed by some strenuous hours at the Inn. Missing out on the Community Land Conference in Stornoway today and tomorrow. But needs must at the Inn, not a weekend one can have off in all consciousness,  and being amongst all those community land owners while we have not a scrap gets a little depressing.

Away Day to Rona.

An away day to Rona was planned and today, after forgetting my fuel key, then fuelling up we set off just after eight. Bill had reported problems with his own connection and I picked a day to get over after catching some langoustine yesterday to keep the Inn going.We were followed half way across by a solitary bonxie which I fed with some pout from yesterday.

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There were only three to keep him/her interested as they do not like the salted herring. Beautiful day

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and even the anticipated north-easterly for the trip home did not arise. Went up to the mast with Sean and Owen and an enthusiastic Bill overtaking us with the tools on the quad,

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staying to help out on a bit of the health and safety side. And we had our usual chat on land, land usage and land reform.

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The views up there are spectacular on a day like today both to the west

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and south.

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The Varuna looking very peaceful alongside the pontoon.

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While the boys were working on the net I managed an oil change and a bit of a scrub down on parts of the boat the everyday hose down does not reach. The nano and tough switches changed we all headed down with Owen getting a picture of how the setup works as he is planning joining one or even two of the Boards. I don’t think things went so well at the receiving end of the system and another visit is required.

Back to the Inn with a box of bigger langoustine to keep them going. There is always variety here in Applecross, asked to check fuses, unsuccessfully, as the Shed electricity went down and then to take a photo of one of the best beer gardens in somewhere.

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Something to do with the Telegraph. All quiet now and a bit of strimming and sowing after tea. Last night’s strimming led to the disappearance of the Dougal who went on an all-nighter not coming home till eleven this morning. Seems pretty tired and remarkably unrepentant.

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Ahead of the game with 2017 calendars for sale at the Applecross Inn. A choice of two this year, the second slim line one showing the wide and varied natural life around the peninsula.

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Already selling nice and steady. All profits are going to the Applecross Community Company. Appreciate all the sales, and shares and tweets about the Company. Against many odds it is a good news story. We are coming up to our AGM and we need new directors to continue the story. We are operating against a background of fairly big demographic changes and something will have to happen soon regarding the politics of access to land or all the good work of the Company will be for nought. Here is a couple of sample months in the new calendar

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showing the seasonal variations we experience.

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Been asked to do a wee story of the Applecross Community Company so far for Lateral North https://www.facebook.com/lateralnorth/?fref=ts.

Applecross is a peninsula on the North West coast of Scotland with a small and spread out population of approximately 220 people. From the east you travel over the highest Pass in Scotland.

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This story all began in 2008 when our Filling Station was under threat of closure so the Community formed a Company under the 2003 Land Reform Act Scotland which then proceeded to refurbish and run the Applecross Filling Station

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on a volunteer basis, funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the Scottish Rural Development programme and the Community.

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Since then the Company has taken over, refurbished

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and run the local toilets. This was funded by LEADER, Highland Council and HIE and local contributions.

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The Community Broadband scheme was next,

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funding to set up the system was provided by Investing in Ideas, Village SOS and Community Broadband Scotland. This has proved challenging both to set up and maintain

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and we are hoping to connect via radio link to fibre optic backhaul in the near future.

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Funding from Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund enabled the Company to welcome the Internationally renowned Flensberg University into the Community,

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hold a Conference on renewable energy,

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and hold numerous workshops from wood fuel

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to showcasing electric cars.

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As result Applecross has become greener with, for example, the installation of several wood fuel stoves burning local wood supplies.

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Last year we formed a Community Benefit Society, AppleJuice, which carried out the building of a Community Hydro Scheme,

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HighlandEco, the contractors built the scheme while we ran a Share Issue to raise £803,700 to pay for it.

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The scheme is capable of producing 90 kWs from run of river. Jamie here putting the finishing touches to the soft ware programs

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and Mick showing the school children the workings of the turbine.

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And Dougal checking the Pipeline.

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This has been the most challenging of all, taking the Community Company around 7 years to plan and develop before Apple Juice funded and built it. It was completed in December 2015 and will provide a future income for the Community to invest in projects to increase capacity and sustainable growth. Working well.

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Worth celebrating as some of the team did.

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Sea Bass No More

When you serve whole roasted Bass with wild mushrooms, sea asparagus and pancetta with a side of red wine jus at the Applecross Inn, this is what happens.

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Thursday and the weekend approaching is for most people the break in the week. Recuperation to get ready for the next onslaught, but it is seasonal here and you take your breaks any day you can. Although working tonight it will be a catch up day until evening at least. The weather has broken with another band of rain coming in and the easterly going to the south already blowing. It had rained hard on Tuesday night so checking the Hydro website was first job yesterday morning. White water coming down the hills but the site only showed a start and stop. Went up to do a manual and get the pressure up once the Campsite opened after nine. A couple of phone calls and a good 24 hours running at maximum, so all’s well. Meant I was a bit later going out but the creels had quite a few small langoustine in them. Knowing there were no half pints of tails at the Inn managed to fill that wee gap in the market.

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We do not tails anything smaller than the langoustine that are sold at the Inn, just the smaller of that size. There are a couple of sizes landed below what most creels boats land and then there are what is called beetles, smash etc caught by the trawl……..tells you which method of fishing is the sustainable one.

The beginning of the week began early, five on Monday morning, out to the Varuna to pick up the langoustine for the Inn and a detour to the Loch Ness Inn. You add on plenty of time as the train leaves whether you are there or not. Everything went swimmingly and made it with an hour to spare. Even managed to purchase Donald S Murray’s tales of St Kilda, The Guga Stone, before setting off for Edinburgh. Went early due to price and a more relaxed view to missing days at sea. Beautiful Edinburgh,

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spring

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and tourists all around. Lazy afternoon catching  on the early start. Wifi may be a little faster than Applecross but a lot more expensive. Then meeting up for a couple of Crabbies with the rest of the group at The World’s End, a bar made famous for all the wrong reasons.

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Fishing talk all the way, the problems, the frustrations but safe in the knowledge that we are on the right side of the story. Backed up by all the evidence already out in the public domain.

The next day was discussing the future and how we were to go about it. As it is well organised and will be out in the public domain in due course more of this in the future. Great to meet up with a couple of organisations one new to me and one I have followed for years. Left a half hour early as train does not wait and after picking up the van in Inverness the call of home becomes stronger. Some lovely mists on the Lochcarron hillside

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and the light last night on the water was as special as ever.

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Over heard a visitor talking about how hard it was to buy shellfish on the pier-head now. Entered a discussion about the sustainable fishery that we are involved in and hoping the future she will be able to buy in Applecross, like the lady that took fresh langoustine back to Torridon when we landed yesterday. Busy evening at the Inn but went like clockwork. Although the customer does not know it, you forget a couple is coming down late, but another two leave a table just in time and it appears seemless. We get away with so much that the customer does not know. Changes to be considered now that the new Cabinet has been announced. Richard Lochhead has stepped down we now deal with Fergus Ewing. We always felt that Richard heard our story and wanted to support it but his wife’s health and possibly the farming IT disaster influenced his decision to step down. So the rest of the afternoon spent on the couch with a lazy Dougal and Eilidh.

Soar Alba Convoy

Not meant to be a political post, just one that tells of what is now a normal weekend in Applecross. Saturday evening was suddenly a little more hard work when the Boss forgot there were only two out front but as usual it was fine. Unless you write immediately one tends to forget the details and it becomes a blur. Stayed till finish and everyone left peacefully including the Alaskans.

Yesterday we were aware of the Soar Alba convoy coming through in the afternoon but as it was busy it completely slipped the mind. Before then the 8 Aberdeen students and the family saying goodbye to one of their own heading back to Australia, 14 of them, the McRorys from Ireland, the list goes on. Result being it was just short of a 12 hour shift….maybe a half hour off. It is genuinely rewarding chatting about sustainable fishing, hitching across the US and even mentioning Trump to the couple from Idaho. U S travellers are usually more open-minded so you can take a chance. Had to make up another half pint of tails for the Californian who forgot to take the photo before eating them. Working at the Inn means not just doing your own job but if you see the Prep Room struggling to keep up with dishes and there is a lull out front you just give them a hand and it is greatly appreciated so all feels good.

The convoy or part of it arrived

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as the Inn was in full swing, good-natured, no hassle apart from the fryers going down in the Airstream,

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not deliberate said the Boss, and a little chaotic for about an hour.

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But if it was not this convoy it would be 20 Harleys, or 12 cyclists, or yet another 25 in another car club. Funny thing seeing the flags flying for your country….no logical reason to smile, but smile I did. Had Aron slightly nervous when I shouted across asking him which way he really voted in the Referendum. And now off to Edinburgh, a 70 page report to read on the train and a couple of days of sustainable fishing chat.

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