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

Wasn’t going to post today but having gone onto the sustainable seas blog based at SAMS, recommended by Ruth, a post caught my eye about how the fishing of the Ghana coast seems to be in trouble. It appears to have a much larger effect on developing countries when they mismanage their resources. Whole cultures and a sustainable way of life seems to be lost when they adopt our fishing practices. One aspect that caught my eye was the social/religious restrictions that the local fishermen imposed on themselves and it got me thinking that the same has applied on the north west coast as well and has acted as a conservation of the stocks. About 50 years ago many of the Applecross fishermen who would be fishing for lobster would either open their creels after lifting them on the friday and would not rebait them till the monday morning because they did not want to catch lobsters on the ‘sabbath’. Nowadays that would be regarded as quaint but I am not so sure. I do not have strong views about what anyone should or should not do on specific days but the decline in catch levels does run in tandem with seven days a week fishing. We tend to treat our resources almost like visiting a supermarket, we expect the product to be there. I have noticed the disappointment of visitors who have come to Applecross and part of the experience is eating shellfish, but scarcity or bad weather means they cannot have what they want. However a simple explanation about sustainable fishing and maybe explaining,for example, the Inn does not sell berried prawns usually allays any disappointment. Going back to the Ghana situation up till now the Applecross fishermen have not fished seven days a week mainly out of respect of the older generation. I used to think I would but have seen the benefits of resting the grounds. Unfortunately boats from other ports work the grounds of Applecross relentlessly. I was speaking to an ex fisherman, now offshore, who painted a pretty bleak picture of the industry locally, declining catches, wages are such that it is getting more and more difficult to keep regular crew. There is a big shift to one man operations which helps the individual in the short-term but maintains pressure on the stocks. When you put the previous generations self-imposed religious restrictions in the perspective of todays declining stocks they were possibly onto something.

Yesterday’s shift at the Inn was busy but very rewarding. It seemed like Lochcarron came over for lunch and reminiscing with customers  about family connections and friends is just the ticket for a sense of well-being. The customers went away happy as well as well fed. There is little doubt in my mind that a sense of a collective coming together is one of the most important things we do, recognising that we are individuals but together we operate at a different level. That is probably a bit of the Eastern Blue sky thinking underway again. (previous post). By the way Spain and Poland have arrived.(see competition)

Living in such a small community writing a blog is bound to and is causing a few ripples. I have had a few chats over the weekend and found a variety of opinions all of which I can both agree and disagree with. I suppose I should be pleased that some think it is worth talking about. I love the responses from such diverse sources like The No Ruff Days dog blog interest in Dougal to Soulsby farm in Ohio, USA. Locally I have come across the view that what I write does not go far enough and the view that it goes too far. This brings me back to my conversation with Sam, who is a genuine writer, about why one writes. I do not think I will ever be some one that writes what I think people want to read. It is more a thought clearing process and if it is of interest to any readers I am seriously humbly pleased. Have to stop now and work on my ego.

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