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

The last three days have been a bit of a blur. On Friday I got an email asking me to go down to the Scottish Parliament to give evidence on a petition put forward by the Torridon Nephrops Group. They are the fishermen to the north who mainly fish out of Shieldaig. Not entirely sure why I was invited although I do have a lot to say. I never thought that politicians thought it was worth listening to. As I saw that Kenny and Richard were going down I decided there would be safety in numbers. But before that it was off to Sal Mor again to meet up with the gang again to learn more about Social Enterprise. I am not a professional course attendee but this one has been nothing short of brilliant although the assessments we are supposed to do so far are not being done. As usual the banter and interaction was as good as ever. Throughout the course we do something which is called an action learning set and these are problems introduced by people who are then questioned by the group to try to look at different ways of solving what seems an insurmountable problem. Almost everyone on the course has said that their view on how they look at and interact within their own organisations has changed. I set my one up by explaining the poor state of the fishery and how was I to put my view across in what I thought was going to be an intimidating situation in a short time. The response and questions and assumptions that were challenged I think were invaluable today in Edinburgh. I am designated driver as usual and it was off to the pub for the evening. The evening and the next day flew by and I was home by five o’clock. Quick meal, couple of photos printed off and it was off to Shieldaig to meet up with Kenny and away down the road. Kenny could not go earlier as he had a trip booked till 8 pm. Boat looked good back on the mooring with Kinloch on the shore behind her.

It turned out to be an easy drive down with little traffic on the road and going through Edinburgh was an easy task for me, finding the hotel not quite so but modern technology kicked and saved the Highlanders yet again. Kenny luckily had his phone which has a GPS, maybe they all have, and from then on it was easy to complete the last stage. Weird hotel though, three floors up in the lift and then down seven flights of stairs. Not owning a watch or alarm meant I had to leave the tele on for a morning time check. We had to be at the Parliament building by 9.45 so that was easily done with breakfast on the way. Met up with everyone and knew that the SFF were not there so things were going to be a lot more peaceful than anticipated a few days ago. It turned out to be a really interesting experience and seemed to go well with the MSPs showing a fair degree of knowledge about our situation and they also seemed to take on board all our points. Marine Scotland ‘s Mike Palmer was there as well as our IFG chair and there was a lot of chat about the structures in place and how they could be improved. It really can be quite stressful as you want to make an impression because you are on a 600 mile round trip about something you are passionate about. I did manage to make a couple of points and that settled me down a bit and was really impressed by Richard’s and Kenny’s contributions. I think they are far more polished than me at putting points across. The meeting over ran by about an hour and towards the end I decided to go for it and told the room that we have to do more than talk about the issues. The way I see the problem is the fishery is in decline and will not survive unless something is done. In this case extend the no trawl zone south and north of Torridon. The creel men are willing to then cut back on creel numbers but only if the trawler is taken out of the equation. I did my usual in saying everything my Dad fished for is gone and we are now fishing for bottom feeders and are endangering them as well. I think it was slightly different to what they were used to and possibly registered and was different from all the structure discussions. I know there was and probably still is huge controversy over the Parliament building and how much it cost but it is pretty impressive. Beautiful inside and out.

So after the hour over run which we all took to be a good sign, it was a quick-lunch and away up the road this time with Richard as well. Good chats about everything and a positive feel about the meeting meant we were in Inverness in no time. Quick visit to Tesco, not by me, and back to Shieldaig to pick up the van and was back at the Inn for a shift that started an hour late. After half an hour managed to make contact with the real world again and got chatting to visitors about politics, fishing, parliaments etc, just every day life for a wee Highland lad . Maybe I will have a quiet day out on the water tomorrow.

Ps Finland arrived when I was away so that makes it 51 countries that have visited the Inn this year.

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