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

Sometimes you just feel angry and then a little despair when you realise how little you matter in the grand scheme of things. Our local paper, the WHFP, published an exclusive on its front page letting us know that the Raasay Range is going to be doubled in size. That is the area called the Inner Sea Area which is a strictly no fish zone. In its current form it has the unintended consequence of an MPA and a conservation area. Now, if the expansion goes ahead this may be the last straw for some creel boats fishing the Sound, both beside and within the proposed closure extension. The anger comes from the fact that there has not been one iota of consultation with the local fleet, either through our associations and Marine Scotland. The despair comes from the inevitability that the closure may well go ahead. The grounds up for closure produces some of the best quality langoustines off the Scottish shores, second to none. Recently there has seen an upsurge in the lobster numbers and some prawn boats have gone creeling for lobsters. Squat lobsters and prime scallops also come from this area. £10s of thousands of pounds worth of seafood enter the local economy and this is threatened by this move of the MOD.


The fishermen who have gear in these areas will be directly affected but all the boats working the grounds around here will feel the consequences. Where are all these creels going to go? The grounds will be chock full of gear and we will be going back to the days when every second fleet of creels will be foul on our neighbours. A simple example of the effects of this proposed action, The Auk, a scallop diving boat, currently moored here, works these grounds during winter and early spring. While here she needs fuel and buys from the Applecross Pier Users Assoc helping us survive and keep our Pier solvent, skipper pops into the Inn so it is all circulating monies. Now she will lose 30/40 days that she fishes on these grounds.

Knowing a little of the history of the setting up of the Range from first hand and speaking to people who went to the meetings I have this feeling of foreboding that this is all done and dusted. The fact that the only discussions I have heard taking place has been between Qinetic and the MOD and this has only been about the date of the announcement confirms this view. The meetings that took place in the early 70s were conducted by naval officers sent up from Deep South and they promised that nothing they were planning would affect the fishing practices on the Inner Sound. The next meeting that took place two different officers would arrive on the scene to announce fishing restrictions, when pulled up about what was said at the last meeting they used the term, “we cannot vouch what was said previously”. And so it goes on to the extent I was told the experienced fishermen stopped going to the meetings as they no longer could take the disrespect. They were known as gentlemen and were not used to being treated in this way. When you are told it won’t matter too much as you take your creels ashore each night and the ground needed is only 15 mins from Kyle, it exposed the ignorance of the officers sent up to dissuade the fishermen of the  proposals.But you realise that plans were set in motion many years before, when you hear that the Hydro boys were puzzled by the size of the power cable that was laid into Sand five years before the first meeting with the fishermen was held in Kyle in the early 70s. Also told the specifications for the weight-bearing placed on the causeway at Kintail was as much as 200 tons. You can understand my cynicism. I don’t imagine for one minute that this has been planned in the short-term but like the seventies, we have to deal with long-term planning from the establishment, the difference this time the MOD are not dealing with fishermen who are trusting and may not be so gentlemanly. And to think over the years I have complied with just about all their wishes around the Range. Can safely say that my fishing has never held up or interrupted a trial and when requested have left gear unhauled at my cost in order for Trials to continue. Cooperation and partnership are a vehicle that goes in both directions. Would I rather see these on the Sound



or the static gear boys that have  a far more sustainable connection to their environment like generations before them.



So I feel free to speculate on the back of so little consultation and information. We do not even know who is a contact, who do you go to put your case to.  I am not interested in State secrets just being treated with a little respect. This news has been preceded by the rumours coming from the shore side of the operation. We have been hearing that millions of pounds are going to be spent on redeveloping Sand which looks as though this is linked closely to the offshore closure. Interesting to note that after Monty Halls left the veranda that was built for the programme had to be taken down as it had not planning permission. I don’t for one minute imagine Applecross Community Council will be dealing with any such planning decisions.No idea about what the building works are going to be, some saying it will be underground. At my worst moments I think Applecross is going to be turned into a Coulport type base. How out of character can you get for this peninsula, a Sanctuary where people come to enjoy, recharge and head back to their hectic lives in a better frame of mind. Who in their right minds would change such a Sanctuary into a Destination that provides a Govt with war materials and methods to kill? But that,  I am sure, has never crossed the Strategists minds. I sometimes feel as though I am living in a Farce, a dark one. Parting thought is something I read recently, it’s about time we get round to”socialising profit and getting private industry to stand on its own feet”. So much corporate business depends on public contracts and are priced accordingly. That’s it.

Comments on: "Desecration of a Sanctuary." (10)

  1. basketbob said:

    That wiped the smile off my face this morning.
    I’m so sorry to hear this – it certainly does sound done and dusted, and 3 coats of varnish 😦

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      In a position that is potentially divisive as people are now tied into defence work in this area, knowing what you are up against but cannot walk away.

  2. Ali I I talked with you about the enlarging of the range about four years ago and you thought it sounded great as it would afforded more protection of the stock so hardley a surprise to read it in the WHFP .

    You have on many occasion said that if the range did not exist fishing in the sound would of ceased years ago. The only reason the prawn fishing is so good is because of the range !!
    As for too many boats and fleets/ creels , with any business there will always be compition and only the strong will survive the others will go under . Will this move not secure a future for local BUTEC workers ?? if the range were to close it would be devastating for this area just in jobs alone the amount of money it brings to the local community’s must run into £ millions over a year ,far more than the fishing . I have every sympathy with the fishermen losing ground however the scallop divers can’t dive in most of the ground as it’s far to deep for them . Jist saying like

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      1. All the area taken out of fishing is in a no mobile area so it is fished by static gear. S if you are arguing against creel fishing being sustainable…..
      2. I have always talked about the unintended consequences and say so in my blog again. Expensive way to carry out an MPA but hey ho……
      3.If you are saying you want our local economy to be tied into defence work I cannot argue with that. Lossie and Kinloss, Machrihanish and Benbecula may want to let you know how healthy that is and open to the whims of any future Govt cuts. Millions of £s of public money, leaving this area open to decisions taken in another country. (3 Jobs in Apx) This is where I live.
      4. Spoken to the divers concerned and the shoreline that is to be closed off provides 30/40 days diving a year for one boat alone.
      Jist saying.

  3. I agree with you creel fishing can be sustainable so long as the number of creels used are kept to a limit ,if the number exceds what the ground can support then it will not be sustainable .
    It may be seen as an expensive way to create a MPA However the amount spent not only creates a MPA but supports host of other things in the area .
    I never said that the local economy should be based on MOD activity but rather that it has for the past forty years help prop it up and further investment may help sustain local jobs,but it depends on what is considered local ie is it the area within fifty miles radius ? , only in one village ? Only one street ? Only one household ?
    It is a global village in my opinion and we are all subject to the butterfly effect .
    It has and always will be the case of if you can’t find work locally then you have to move, I know as I have had to do it five times in my life so far .

    I can’t comment on the number of days lost to a dive boat as I must take the owners word for that , I can say there are a few scallop divers who do not live locally and take scallops from local – 50m radius -shallow waters so much so that it is near impossible to find any at low tides these days , I have personally seen divers work water within the 10 metre mark at high tide and as you know we have a tidal range of 6 metres .
    As for the ethics of how goverment monies are spent we could discuss the merits of that form now until the herring return .
    Hope to get over or round the hill in a few days to catch up
    Jist saying like ye kin

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      The question is how much ground should the MOD close off to “sustain” jobs”locally”, from what I read you think this is an okay proposal and I do not. I like simple.

  4. Never said or intended to come over as thinking this is an ok proposal,
    I simply stated that I knew it was comming at some point, and I thought you did as well as we talked about it four years past so not a surprise , I also like simple

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      We now know 13 jobs are to go so the investment in sustainable jobs does not hold any water.

  5. I do wonder if this may be an opertunity for a MPA to be created around the range with only static gear allowed in

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      There already is but all the ground proposed is in a no mobile area.

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