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

Posts tagged ‘berried prawns’

Climate Change?

Over the last two or three years it is becoming more and more noticeable that there are changes under way in the water and this picture shows one of them. The langoustine cycle, as I understand it is in Spring they feed on the seabed and around April/May they cast their shells and breed. The creel fishery is usually very poor at this time and in the older days the wooden boats were up on the beach getting their annual overhaul….GRP boats, maintenance so less time off so more fishing time. Around July/August they langoustine are more interested in feeding again and carry what we call green sac, the pre egg stage and by September there are lots of females on the grounds carrying eggs, which they carry for up to eight months. The prawns with the brown eggs is in the sequence I have described above but the dark green eggs are from a prawn that has just laid her eggs……five months out of season. This is the sort of changes in the fishery that should be researched. Maybe it is beyond our control already…Climate Change? Must go out and catch more non-berried prawns. This reminds me I have to get back in touch with Mr Stein.

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The Rewards make it worth the Effort.

Friday saw us going over to Strathcarron to meet with Alison’s HIE boss/mentor. The Community Company is her employer and we could do with being better line managers but that is often the case with volunteer boards. Every one on the Board is either self-employed and/or have two jobs so time is usually limited in the due governance department. The result is that wages are a wee bit late and fishing is covering the costs,just. When we catch up Xmas should be good although being brought up a good presbyterian does not figure to large on my calendar. There are lots of positive projects underway regarding the Company and the meeting generally was productive but there are huge frustrations. We discussed the current campaign re the Trust and the overall picture over here and over an hour and a half you do realise how much can be done and will not if every one is not on board. It is good to speak with some one who has experience of other communities who have similar problems to us and how they go about dealing with them. Although it does not actually help us we do know that we are not alone and these situations cannot realistically continue. Before leaving we tap into the local network to see if the Hill is clear and although tricky it was fine by half nine.

Fishing days are few and far between these last couple of weeks. There have been a couple of mornings that the weather has been fine but forecast has been poor but right and its been blowing by 12 pm, justifying not going out. Back home via Shieldaig where I called in at Sarah’s for another massage. Although it was extra ordinarily painful it does appear to have lots of benefits and painkiller intake is on the decline again. A couple of shifts at the Inn, saturday evening was a lot quieter although the accommodation was fully booked. Speaking to a couple who own the Kylesku Hotel and they were talking to Judith about berried prawns and how their fishermen were telling them that discards do not survive. Cannot tell fishermen not to land berried prawns but can say the science of survival is on my side. Creel caught prawns were used as a control on a study of trawl discards and there was a 98% survival, trawl was 50% by the way and that were the ones that were not damaged.

Today’s shift had some great moments and good chats with lots of different people. I keep getting people coming up to me and saying how reasonable the blog is and that was the case again today. Although the conversations I have about it often cannot be blogged as they do explore fairly radical scenarios that taken out of context would be used against me. As Gandhi once said an open and free democracy would be great to try out to see if it would work but until that day one has to be careful. Later on a chap from the north-east as he was paying his bill commented on everything good about the Inn with so much feeling that it changes your day. The welcoming atmosphere, the fantastic food, even the fire. They left very happy and another job well done for the Inn. Later on some residents who were staying along the street had some lunch and spoke to them about various things. Turned out they were from the north of Holland and ran a 30 metre sailing ship in the tourist trade, 28 berths I think. Chatted to one of them at length and he could not say enough about how welcoming we were as a country. In a non nationalist way it sort of made me a little proud that there are lots of people who understand the meaning of a welcoming hospitality. Again he was saying what a homely and atmospheric place they were at and it was quite moving how he explained it in his broken english. If nothing else we seem to do this well. Ok I know he did not visit Possil or Ferguslie, sorry no offence meant to these estates. From 3 o’clock the musicians from Lochcarron played until 6 and this added to the ambience and was really appreciated by the customers Although the half term holidays are over you would expect the season to tail off but not yet. I suppose when you see the steaks, the seafood platters and langoustines it no surprise that the punters keep coming. New flavours of ice cream keep arriving, creamy mandarin being a recent addition. Time flies when it is good and busy.

With so much going on there are still spells of good weather and the Dougal is always out checking things are in order around the house.

Fishing future,the Inn and a little Bees.

Just read a report from the New Economic Foundation about how inefficient our fishing methods are and how far we are from sorting it out. Although the report concentrates on white fish and pelagic fisheries I see the same happening on our prawn stocks. The report suggests that if we take measures to get the stocks of fish and shellfish back to a level which is a maximum sustainable yield then everyone from fishermen to buyers and all connected on the shore make more money than they are doing just now and more people will be involved in the fishery. The present situation of catching more than is being replaced by the stock is unsustainable but every-one both at sea and people in power seem unable to take action until yet another stock disappears from view. The report uses the word ‘restore’ and I remember we tried to put that into a management plan for our inshore fisheries future. We had to take out the word because other fishing association leaders objected to the unscientific nature of the word. Unfortunately I had not read this report as the science is there to back up the use of the word ‘restore’. One suspects that the opposition to the word restore rests in the fear that their members would have to suffer some short-term pain, that is lose some earnings, in the hope that stocks will recover. When you look at the Applecross Inn,one of the best west coast eating establishments, specialising in seafood, what a shame that all the white fish comes from the east coast. It is a pity but I see no long-term future for fishing in Applecross if we stay on our current track. One of the more troubling developments in recent years is the fact that by putting back the berried prawns you can no longer make a viable living from the fishery. Up till now you could argue that I was making a good wage while still returning the berried females and you could argue with other fishermen that this is good fishing practice. I do not think that is the case now and that is why I now work part-time at the Inn and am fortunate Alison has a two-year contract. So unless there a policing policy introduced then it will not happen on a voluntary basis. The brief spell of good fishing has already tailed of here. The other missing link is that we do not seem to catch for the market but go out and catch whether the demand is there or not.

On a lighter note work at the Inn is going well. Was there the last couple of days where the Easter trade has started up and the Inn is full of happy diners. A couple of shifts lined up over the next couple of days and the staff numbers are reaching full complement as the boys come back from South Africa. It does seem that the Inn is not being too badly affected by the general down turn in the economy but this is not accident in that there has been a huge amount of hard work gone into building up a loyal and sustainable trade over the last 23 years. Spoke to Kenny and Gemma for a while last night. they came down with leaflets for the Torridon sea tours, although it may have just been an excuse to have some good food. Booked a trip this summer to the Shiants an ambition second only to going to St Kilda.

Turning thoughts to bees again as the weather and the time of year means the beekeepers will be having their first look at their hives. We are hoping to get 3 nuclei from Colonsay. Toying with the idea taking Dougal and co with me and camping overnight. Hope the winter was not too harsh and the keeper has some bees for sale.

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