Had a look at “Prawn Wars” this morning on iPlayer despite misgivings over the title. The general feedback is that it was not too bad a watch for people ashore but when fishermen have got together we pulled it apart. That is only to be expected as editing and emphasis is based on what catches the attention and holds it. I found Ian (Macduff) from Gairloch’s contribution fascinating and wished that there had been more of that. The fishermen I have spoken to thought it was a missed opportunity but then it was a Landward program and not ours and in that context it was very watchable. And also the fishermen I speak to in the main are creel men. Ian spoke of plentiful fishing in such a matter of fact way, of herring that would feed the village from one haul of his drift nets, of cod that would be split and salted for the winter and of langoustine the size of small lobsters caught up in his ground nets. No one is saying we should or could get back to these days of plenty but it should never be forgotten how much has been taken from the seas of our shores in the last fifty or sixty years. Unfortunately as is always the case , when times are plentiful the last thing we think about is the future viability of the stocks we are catching and this catches us out in stock after stock. I wanted more stories and evidence of prior to 1984 when the three-mile limit was abolished, but “You can’t always get what you want”. There was nothing startling throughout the program although one or two things made me smile. The dredge picking up a few scallops and some stones “not having any effect on the marine eco system. The role reversal of 1984 if the three-mile limit “which I doubt” is returned. There were creels men who invested money in the 80s to see a short-lived bonanza sweep away many a good living. Not only that but as pointed out, quite politely, in the program that there are no go areas for creels. And for me that is the bit that grates a little as we often hear “we should work together” from the mobile sector. Working together is we know our place, at least the place to put our creels. Up on the hard ground out of the way of the mobile sector whether there are langoustine there or not. Glad I was not used as what I said was in the same vein as Ian but with out the knowledge and practical experience he quietly talked about. Did find it a little ominous the statements about creels foul on the trawlers net, just cut and dropped to get clear, rather than respect for some one else’s fishing efforts and investment. The theme throughout the program, although not at the forefront, was the decline in stocks and necessitates the status quo is not an alternative. Very few people are confident that stocks are stabilising but are in fairly constant decline. The mobile skipper was confident enough to say that it was not overfishing that was causing this decline, that produced another wry smile. Today I was over giving blood and chatting about the program with a friendly fisherman and very similar opinions exchanged. A diver who would take a flattie or a skate home to his neighbours on request, so plentiful that he could take the requested size home as well. Eighteen months after the limit was done away with so were the fish. Now in the water with the camera he is finding it hard to find a fish of any sort to photograph. Meanwhile 10/16 big twin rig trawler have been scouring the Minch from Rue Rhea to the Butt of Lewis for the last month and a half. The effort on the stock is concentrated on fewer but larger and more destructive vessels. Although this is out of the scope of the Prawn Wars program it is another example of how our fisheries are being mismanaged, allowing the market to dictate to the fishery rather than the environment and fishery shape the market.
Back to the land and a very busy weekend was had at the Inn, long day on Sunday with bikes and more bikes coming over the Hill to make it bike city by 2pm.
You are working away inside while all this is going on outside and only realise how many are there when you do a turn of the tables. Not many people eating out as the weather has not improved. There have been a couple of very pleasant sun downs though,
especially the one on Sunday evening.
Milton catching the soft light at the end of a long, long day, but worth it to see just that.
Fishing has been slow to start this week and although the weather was half decent on Monday I did not venture out but turned into a recovery day and watched Sons of Anarchy’s last series. Maybe life is not as complicated as all that after checking out the bike scene in California. Mind you our discussions and meetings about the Hydro are not simple and still just on course. This as a result of another Board Meeting at The Walled Garden on Monday. Generally since the last election results we are really up against it regarding community work and trying to be greener. The latest budget has revoked the renewable energy sector’s exemption from the green levy exemption which is bizarre in itself but another burden on community hydro schemes. The one closest to us has worked out that it will be £2,ooo less going into their community as a result. We have began to lobby for a FiTs accreditation extension but are not holding our breath in the current political atmosphere. It is a bit like the fishing the status quo is not an option going by all the reports about continued climate change and warming across the world.
In from a short walk with Dougal and Eilidh after my trip to Kyleakin.
In between the poor weather we are getting blinks of sun and calm with another couple of windy days coming up. Clare on Eilean Garbh has had little midges to contend with.