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

Posts tagged ‘Inshore Fishing Conference’

Blood Doning, Roads and Fishing Talk.

Sitting in Inverness Railway Station wondering if I wait for the next train which comes in over two hours as no message and no partner coming off the instructed to meet train. A remark and a small curry beckons. It’s been a “fun-filled” couple of days, going back to Tuesday in fact when I set off over the Hill to Kyleakin to give blood. All by appointment means you get seen to as soon as you arrive, the only trouble is arriving at the right time after travelling fifty odd miles. Building up a strong distaste for the needle in the arm bit but as I have benign blood, no antibodies, so any one can have it, it’s better that some one gets it….I can always make more. The weather has taken a turn for winter and although cold and windy it is not unusual being called the lambing or cuckoo snows. The Bealach was looking good

but there was not a flake of snow on the road, it being well cleared.

Unfortunately the road continues to deteriorate and more photos going in to the HC Roads Dept

coupled with the news that RBS are no longer sending a bank van to Applecross due to “health and safety concerns over the route” into the peninsula. We had a very helpful visit from Richard Green who is hoping to be re-elected as one of the councillors in Ward 6 and interesting to see how disturbed he was at the state of the Bealach in places.

(Well that was all at the Station) and Alison turned up on the next one so no need for the mobile, till the next time. With all that is going on at sea and on land currently, waiting an extra hour or so in a van is little hassle. The day had started at 5.15am to get out to the Varuna for some langoustines for Loch Ness Inn. They were duly boxed and put in the back of the van to be delivered in the afternoon. The morning was to be taken up with The Inshore Fishing Conference. Made it in time, just, and heard Fergus Ewing’s opening speech. There was not too much about us in it and it seems a page and a half was missed out that would have made it more relevant to the static gear boys. Have thought for years that we have our politicians and audiences the wrong way round. The politicians should be in the audiences and listening to what is being said rather than telling us about policy and then heading off out the door while the real stuff goes on. I was a bit nervous most of the morning as I had been asked to go onto a panel. I had thought that it was in one of the workshop breakouts but it turned out to be in the main auditorium. Just as well I did not know that until half an hour before. Went to the Norwegian workshop but was slightly off focus for me and it was all about science and compliance rather than down to earth inshore fishing.

So it was off to the Main Hall for the last session before lunch and home. After an intro from  knowledgeable Brexit lawyer/facilitator, Daniel,

and a wee intro from the three of us it was Q and As and I can only go by the reaction and it did seems favourable from what a few people told me afterwards. I tend to go onto automatic pilot a bit when in meetings and this was a first for a panel. Seemingly I sort of butted in and got everyone talking about Inshore Fishing rather than Brexit and went on a little ,mild, I thought, rant about it was the fishermen catching the fish being the main reason that there are not fish in inshore waters. Must have touched a raw nerve with an Avochie fisherman as he asked an awkward two parter but luckily I had enough knowledge to answer it. I appreciate the comments afterwards and just relieved that I did not make an idiot of myself. Now have a researcher, Cardiff University getting in touch and been invited to another Conference!!. Part and probably the most important part, of these gatherings is meeting people and information collecting. The most striking conversation I had and related to the recent ridiculous dredging in Lochcarron. I was listening to a diver telling me how it was and the day it all changed for him. Lucrative diving off Gairloch, enough to be able to afford a rather smart car, which partly due to personal circumstances and good fishing he could now afford. He remembers that day so well as he was on the phone ordering the car and turning round the headland he saw three dredgers circling on the ground he had just come off. He then gave a before and after description of how the sea bed had waves of sand which were protecting the marl beds and above that in shallower waters were the flame shell reefs. On Monday back in the water and all flattened to desertification levels where only periodic visits from dredgers can now fish there. The whole marine eco system has been degraded to this level now up and down the coast to the extent that divers only find small patches that the dredge cannot get into. The whole reason for me being on the panel was to give a different view on how we treat our environment, catch less treat the catch and the environment better and receive a greater economic return. Not “rocket science” as a previous member of our community used to say with much regularity. There should have been more fishermen there but the forecast had Friday as the best day of the week

after the northerly gales at the beginning.

I am a strong supporter of the SCFF

and in turn appreciate the sterling work our officials do,

one of the few organisations which does not advocate the status quo for its members all the time. Thanks to Sally for the photos and encouragement.

Then it was down to the Loch Ness Inn with the still live

and kicking langoustines. Some larger ones going down now to try to keep supplies going more uninterrupted.

The fishing has tailed off dramatically but the weather has kept some of the visitors away and the day’s fishing on Thursday saw through the weekend. Good weather, an easterly breeze with lots of sunshine for the week,

despite the lack of langoustines bodes well for a pleasant but tiring spell. So leave the land side for another day as we are in-between responses and to last night’s sunset to leave you with.

Appache Proverb, Ardban and Applestock Festival.

May the sun bring you new energy by day

May the moon softly restore you by night

May the rain wash away your worries

May the breeze blow new strength into your being

May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.

No idea if this is true but, like Chief Seattle’s letter to the then President of the US of A, the sentiment has so much meaning. Chief Seattle tried to tell the President that ownership of land was an alien concept and used the analogy of the river being his brother and how could he own it but as history shows it was not a white man’s ideal. His was “get off my land”. Even if he did not write it the environmental statement was way ahead of its time. The above is a native American Indian blessing and with this in my thoughts the last couple of days has felt just a little bit more aware. I went to Ardban with Dougal and Co on a grey but quiet Saturday morning. Even within the unique Applecross environs the coral beach on low tide at Ardban is special and I think it seems different every time you go there. Because the views across the Sound were a bit restricted your attention is drawn into the immediate features and you see things in a different way. Down by the shore even on a dull day there is always colour. There is as much colour on the NW coast as anywhere in the world….you just have to see it.

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Looking around up from the shore line I noticed the combination of ancient weathered rocks with a ruined gable end of about a hundred years ago. Some of my own relatives used to live out here. We think we are so knowledgable but when you look at the timescale in the photo we are just a blink of the eye.

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So it was back to the house and down to Camusteel to watch a very enjoyable game of rugby before going up to the Inn for a Saturday evening shift which also turned out to be very enjoyable. Until you do some thing again you don’t realise how much you have missed it. To see the langoustines and scallops go out and speak to the customers, knowing they have enjoyed eating, finding out where they are from and you always make a connection. At the Inshore Fishing Conference we were told that the “market” needs a story for the consumers to hear. We have been telling the story for decades in Applecross, once again ahead of the game. The story of an attempt to carry out our fishing methods with the environment at the forefront. Interest in the National press this weekend and although some inaccuracies the story is starting to get out there.

There is a genuine sense of excitement regarding the latest news on the Applestock Festival website http://www.applestock2013.com/ where the Treacherous Orchestra have been confirmed as the headline act on the Saturday evening in the Marquee at the Campsite. Although working at the Inn all day I hope to get up to the Walled Garden to see some of the many acts on all day. Acts include”local” girl Becca Fox, Coast Road Truckers, and to some less well-known to me, Oak Hero, Woodland Orchestra, and Lurach to name but a few. I have offered to do the bar in the evening and looking forward to it as serving people well to the music of Treacherous, it just won’t be work. I know how much effort goes into the organising of events as I was one of the many involved in the Seafood and Music Festivals and it is brilliant to see younger and enthusiastic people getting together and putting on an event such as this. I don’t think the Countryside Alliance got it quite right when it mentioned in its publicity that Applecross was a community that had almost given up on itself.There is a lot of life in this community and there is a feeling of optimism around.

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