Well it seems to have hit the fan. Well played the WHFP and I would think there is more coming out this week although getting relevant information is the proverbial blood from a stone. How much is an arrogant attitude from an organisation that is barely accountable to anyone, or endemic secrecy, we shall never know. Various emails and letters, interviews and more meetings have taken place since the article broke the MoD out into the open. I have lots of niggling little thoughts about who knew what and when but at the moment have to cut across party lines to get as much support for the fishermen. We are severely lacking in contacts and information but one bit that has emerged is a letter sent to, but not received by Charles Kennedy, internal investigations in both sender and receiver offices. This gives us the info that the Rona Range is going to close down by the end of 2016 and going to be run from Kyle.Underwater equipment is to be moved nearer to Sand, no mention of the sea closures, and bigging up the £22 million investment. Importantly for me it confirms the shutting down of the manned operation in Rona with the loss of the remaining thirteen jobs on the island. There were twenty but there has been a run down in process with the ending of this operation and it also suggests the investment is part covered by the savings from moving the Rona operation to Kyle. There is always potential for a bit of local strife if it was portrayed that it was either fishing or MOD livelihoods at stake. This letter clearly states that there are Qinetic jobs going as a result of the Longterm Partnership Agreement. Anyone saying it is either Us or Them can forget it. The big hole in the information is there is not a mention of the Marine Closure, if not for the WHFP when were we going to hear about this? We are now told consultation will take place in June but we have already been told it has taken place with Highland Council and HIE. Were the Mod planning to close the area and use the HC/HIE consult as evidence that they have done their “consultation?” Inevitably what will happen, especially as there is an election around the corner, is the political point scoring and fair enough. I can see what I write going out there in different directions, but that’s life. I am now used to this happening. As I have said before because we have not been told anything I feel I have every right to speculate on the little we are told and the consequences of these proposals.
Tuesday morning saw me leaving for Town to do some badly needed dog shopping and call in at BBC studios on Castle Street. Helps to know who is asking the questions, won’t see it and it may not even be used but still worth doing. Run around town and then to Broadford to check a computer switch before attending a really good and constructive Meeting in Kyleakin on Tuesday evening, calm, intelligent and questioning. Genuine fear that this will be the last straw for more than one boat working the Sounds. To cut a long story short Duncan put together a succinct series of questions arising from the table queries and concerns.
1. Who was consulted in “the extensive review process? and can we see their responses?
2. Who do we speak to in the MOD and or Qinetic to open up a dialogue?
3. What are the rights on the Range, bylaws or other instruments controlling the areas?
4. Navigational and sailing implications regarding this proposed closure.
5. Does there have to be a full closure, agreements already in place between Rona and Torridon fishermen.
6. Meetings have to be held as soon as possible with appropriate people.
In all the correspondence and articles there is very little being said about the closure of the fishing grounds. The MOD are stating that the area has not been expanded without consultation and spokesman says “It is absolutely not true to say that the MoD has already doubled the size of the protected areas of Raasay Ranges……”. Both statements are true but meaningless. No fisherman is saying they have doubled the Inner Sea Area, I am saying the MoD are going to. And finally to all the people who have shown a genuine concern about the proposals to curtail and even stop generations of fishing in the Inner Sound I would like to pass on sincere thanks for the messages, likes and support in all forms. Maybe we will win this and carry on our efforts to make our fishery more sustainable.
Almost forgot, back home to an important Community Company Meeting, only twenty minutes late. Long day but would not change it for the world, that s why I do what I do, feels like a curse sometimes. But my abiding thoughts and feelings are that the Sanctuary is not an appropriate place to conduct warfare testing. It’s a place that people have found over the centuries, settled and made their ways in life. It’s had its conflicts but a traditional way of life is now seriously under threat. Interesting weather to travel in and some fine sights to take one’s mind of the tenser thoughts. The top of Glen Docherty,
Garve watching the snow fall,
and of course across the Sound before leaving home.