Good to get out fishing again. It really has been too long but on the other hand I think I will always have a little advantage in that taking some time off usually means I am looking forward to being back on the water . Very fortunate that I am blessed with a way of life and that I don’t work but just do stuff, one of which happens to be catching langoustine that people seem to enjoy eating. Being at the Inn is in the same category with a slightly stricter timetable. Bit of a cold and grey day and long one as well. A 9 to 5 on the water hauling 400 creels on your own and you know you don’t have to go to the gym for a “work out” in the evening. The reward is a meal of squat lobsters and langoustine tails in a sweet chilli sauce,garlic,ginger and a bit of soy sauce served on a bed of rice. No labels needed to tell you they were 100% langoustine as seems to be the current problem in some super markets these days.
Today we headed off to Inverness to the first ever Inshore Fishing Conference at Eden Court. It was my new Lopi’s first outing and very appropriate for the day as the fishermen had to be distinguished from the suits.
I thought it was very in keeping with the Scandinavian Noir I have been reading and watching lately. Now that Borgen has finished Saturday evenings are bereft, although our satellite has now gone down and contemplating not fixing it. Will miss a bit of live rugby, or not maybe. It has been quite a few years now since I have owned a Lopi, I had them 20 years before they became fashionable, my usual time scale regarding fashion.
Anyway back to the Conference. I always go to these events with a healthy cynicism and a little hope and am often right. The problem the fishermen on the North west have is with the introduction of the IFGs we all thought this heralded a new dawn and some common sense was going to be applied to our fishery. Unfortunately what we thought was the start of a long road Marine Scotland decided was a culmination and paid off our Co-ordinators and left the fishermen puzzled and not a little disillusioned. It will take more than a Conference to turn this feeling around although the news that Richard Greene will be our new Chair is excellent, an ex-fisherman and current Councillor. Heard a speech from the fisheries Minister which if carried through will be positive, only problem is there are no reintroductions of mobile restrictions on the table but give it time…… Morning workshop was good and was about locally managed fisheries and a lot of sensible discussion took place, the need for more science based data, look at the size of the stock as well as the quantity, stop reflecting the value of the catch in monetary terms as a true indicator of the health of the fishery. High prices can distort the true nature of the problem. We have to recognise the fishing effort has increased dramatically in order to land the same or indeed less catch. Lunch was ok but the paella either had trawl caught prawns in it or they were overcooked as you could hardly get them out of the shell. In fact I did not bother trying, being a spoilt fisherman from Applecross. The problem I have with that is it should not have to be the case. Everyone should have the chance to eat the real thing not the mashed up product often presented. If I did not know any better lunch was wonderful, unfortunately eating out struggles to match the Applecross eating sensations. Afternoon workshop was a waste of time for me, understandably Marine Scotland want consensus and agreement and feel regulation should be a last resort. But my experience of last year when several creel boats saw a trawler towing my gear, tried calling him up with no response and then watched him leave the area with my gear in a mess leaves you with a bad taste. My idea of consensus is that skipper is not fit to be on the water and should lose his right to fish if that is the lack of respect he shows to fellow fishermen. Marine Scotland should exercise their convening powers and legislate these people off the water in order to allow other less aggressive fishermen to carry on their livelihoods in peace. Maybe it is not all bad in that we are attending a Conference about inshore fishing and are at least starting to talk about some of the problems.
Had a chat with our local MSP for a while and ended up chatting about the last year or so both on land and sea and it made for some interesting thoughts. We did wonder why the SLE submission to the Land Reform Review Group should not be in the public domain, mine is not but for obvious local and personal reasons.The wry comment was made that maybe things would be better if there were 35,000 members of the SLE instead of 3,500. It appears that the lack of a snowblower in Applecross has been put to the top of the Scottish political agenda mainly through the efforts of Ali, our shopkeeper, who used the opportunity to discuss the problem with as many politicians as he could when down in Edinburgh picking up first prize from The Countryside Alliance Village shop competition in the Scottish final. Almost expect a new blower being delivered next week, but joking apart hats of to Ali Seonag and staff for a great wee village shop.