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

Fishing…missed opportunity?

The list on Tuesday’s post is on hold until tomorrow. The weather is really bright just now but is tempered by a west to southwesterly gale. Good  walking day, an occupation essential for a bit of clarity of thought and conversation and there are certainly lots of these. Yesterday I was through in Inverness meeting with fishermen involved with formulating a management plan to try to improve the inshore fisheries of our coast. There were very few positives to take away. Marine Scotland,the government agency responsible for fisheries have decided to terminate the contracts of our local coordinators in the belief that their job was done once they had presented our plan for approval. Every one else round the table was under the impression that we were just starting to sort out the mess our waters are in. I have a fairly pessimistic view of our local stocks and is based on having a historic view of what preceded our fishery. Mentioned it before but one of the best books I have read about the current state of our seas is written by Calum Roberts and he explains in simple layman’s language the term a ‘degraded environmental baseline.’ This put simply means that a young guy coming into a fishery makes £700 a week thinks everything is ok, but when you talk to the previous generation they will say what it used to be like, and even their experiences would be enhanced further by fore fathers. What generations of fishermen have done  in a very short space of time is fished down through the various stocks. That has resulted in the absence of a local herring fishery, a haddock, cod, whiting fishery and we are now catching crab, prawn and lobster which are bottom feeders,beautiful eating, but the end of the sea food chain. It makes you think that I have spoken recently to an Applecross worthy who climbed up  the hill above the Bay and in 1948 counted 53 basking sharks in the bay. The level of life in the Inner Sound must have been awesome using the true meaning of the word. If I see one in a year I consider myself fortunate. When we sit round a table squabbling and having national government support with drawn from your positive proposals I always think on what it used to be and we should be embarrassed about the way we have gone about things regarding the sea. A little mini rant I know but it is frustrating when you believe everyone can be better off if the fisheries were managed properly. What industry ashore is it accepted that you destroy the future of that industry? That is what is being done by fishermen when they land berried prawns. I won’t even think about trawling today.

It was suggested several times throughout the meeting yesterday that one of the problems we are up against is the loss of power of the centre, in our case the civil service in Edinburgh. They seem to have realised that they have given a voice to the people who matter and who have a much more practical view on how their industry works, far more than a desk bound civil servant who lives 300 miles way. Does this threaten their jobs, which is managing the fishery? This got me thinking about the problems we are encountering on land as well and there are similarities, instead of distant civil servants we have to deal with distant owners and however well-meaning both can be, the distance seems to a crucial factor in their lack of knowledge in how certain lifestyle works that is alien to their day-to-day existence. Decisions are taken at the centre that have no effect at the source but impact on the daily lives of those living in the remote areas. To be fair, in as much as I can, I think it must be very hard for those people in power and control to give any of that up I think we have to question that authority if it does not deliver.

However, always to finish on a positive note I am off to take Dougal and family back out, feed them and the hens and plant shallots and onions before going off to work at the Inn. Life goes on, Alison having headed of to Dunkeld to take part in a housing conference. We do laugh at the well-meant tourist question, But what do you do in the winter?

Comments on: "Fishing…missed opportunity?" (2)

  1. aha! dougal is a hound!
    and, don’t stop ranting about degraded fisheries. my father was ranting about it at the dinner table in the 1950s. makes me feel right at home.

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      And a fine hound at that although Alison may disagree somewhat at times. Fishing is such a big part of my life that I cannot accept the continual decline of our way of fishing. It is so unproductive.

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