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

Passive Fishing Rules.

Week ends are for recovery but not if it is summer and you work shifts at the Inn. Never mind, a good comatose night’s sleep and it was back on the water. That was after landing the large and extra-large for Sean to pick up to see them through the day till I landed later in the afternoon. When I did Steve told me they only had a starter portion left!! Another fairly uneventful day with just one fleet shot over to sort and another that had to be joined together as it was in two, but apart from these minor things it was another fairly poor day’s fishing although when I hauled the first ten creels of the first fleet of the day it was looking very rosy.


Some of these creels brought back memories of how the fishing used to be when you were cheesed off if you were not averaging 7/8 kilo of good quality langoustine per fleet. It is that difficult balance where you know that the environment is struggling to cope with what you do to it while it still looks after you by allowing you to make a comfortable, if tiring living.The only other note of interest was the first creel caught mackerel came on board, hopefully a sign that there will be more activity in the Sound over the next month or so.

I was sent some photos taken to the North of Applecross by a scallop diver and shows what is left behind when dredgers come through your locale.


This is something I bang on about a bit but it is good to get it out there. Most people look across the Sound and they see a beautiful stretch of water surrounded by stunning landscape and have little knowledge of what goes on on the seabed. How, we, as fishermen carry out activities that put the environment right to the edge of collapse. At least with creels it is a relatively selective form of fishing and most of what you cannot sell or eat can go back live and you leave the environment relatively undamaged.


Creeling if carried out with impunity can be part of this but as you see in today’s photo what can be caught with passive fishing methods and compare to what is left behind as a dredger comes in after scallops. The fact is that the dredger catches the most scallops on the third or fourth run. This is a result of the dredges levelling the ground so they can get to the scallops which tend to lie between the ridges.


What a way to fish. I remember either Reporting Scotland or Landward showing photos of dredged ground a couple of years ago and the only statement from the Scallop Dredgers Association was that the photos were photo shopped and it was a set up.


These photos were only taken in a ten square metres area of seabed and I was told that this destruction stretched out of sight in both directions but due to lighting conditions could not be shown clearly.


Unless legislation is passed to give the environment some sort of protection we will not have one that will provide anything of substance to survive on.

Comments on: "Passive Fishing Rules." (4)

  1. Very interesting Ali. Worth sharing so that others get to know, so I have.

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      Thanks. My head has been well and truly above the parapet for quite a while now and being that little bit older can take any flack that comes my way from the “dinosaur” establishment that are some of the fishing associations.

  2. Jamie McIntyre said:

    A while back TV chef Hugh F-W managed to get some footage of scallop dredging as it happened, and its aftermath. Certainly devastating, but as a forester my immediate reaction was ‘that’s underwater clearfelling’. Walk any recent clearfelled forest and there will be little sign of life, much ‘collateral damage’ to non-target species, and then there are the changes that are not obvious to the eye – soil loss, and changes in soil carbon etc.

    Nature is resilient and apears to recover quickly so questions are not asked, but what are the long-term, cumulative effects of such approaches, generation after generation? There is all sorts of evidence that the Highlands (and their forests and seas) were much more productive historically, but the usual reason given for their subsequent decline is climate rather than man’s mismanagement.

    Fishing, farming, forestry – all have an industrial version that ‘takes no prisoners’, but also all have versions that are much more sympathetic, in forestry these are called Low Impact Silvicultural Systems (LISS). You setting creels targeted at particular species in particular areas is analagous to a forester selecting specific trees and either harvesting them individually using smaller machinery for the purpose, or leaving them to grow bigger and better for the future.

    We are told however that it is not possible for such approaches to be more widespread. On close examination more often than not ‘possible’ is taken to mean cheap enough (short-term, as we do not know the long term costs of the industrial approach).

    It seems to me there is often more in common between like-minds in different industries, than different-minds in the same ones, and that there should be a network or alliance between the likes of crofters, creel fisherman, and ‘family foresters’ (though sadly the latter are almost non-existent in Scotland in contrast to most of the rest of the world). Strength in numbers!

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      Hi Jamie, your reply is worth a blog in itself. Really interesting connecting the different occupations on land and sea. The west’s obsession with growth at all costs always seems to get in the way of working with nature intsead of battling against her.

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