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

Posts tagged ‘Rick Stein’

Where do you Belong?

Came across an interesting post on Facebook that I cannot get out of my head and have been thinking about most of the day. For me it is revealing the way I ask questions of the visitors at the Inn and the response I get and the interest in me that it sparks.

“We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Aldo Leopold. Went on to the net to see what I could learn about Aldo and was interested that he took part in the eradication of the wolves as a predator on farmed stocks but came to realise that this was totally the wrong way to go about “managing” wilderness areas. A bit like some fishermen wanting cod to join the dinosaurs so they can have a freer access to trawling the langoustine out of existence. But without a thought of what role the cod play in supporting the whole marine ecosystem. It seems to be commonly accepted that taking the wolves out of the equation areas became deforested as elk/moose numbers grew and overgrazed saplings. Who would have thought that wolves affected natural tree regeneration. Wonder what the disappearance of cod,haddock,hake and whiting in our local waters is doing to our marine environment. Short term there is less” money” to be made from the sea, evidenced by the numbers of ex fishermen now working ashore, but what is the long-term problems that are going to emerge because of the way we are treating our marine environment. A freelance writer turned up at the Inn yesterday and Judith called me over for a brief chat about the Inn’s policy on not landing Berried Langoustine and as with everyone else we speak to, it is such an obvious way to try to regenerate a failing fishery. Sarah and Aron told me a couple of weeks ago that Sam Clark, of Moro fame, has called up his supplier to tell him that he will change his buyer if he sends him any females carrying eggs…that was after spending a day out on the Varuna. I was not looking for this but to be told the news I did feel as though some thing good had happened. As I had not heard from Rick Stein apart from the fact he was busy I sent another email telling him that Moro had now stopped using berried langoustine. That was last week and no reply as yet.

Going back to the land issue, there were a couple of comments that were interesting in that “indigenous”people see land and land use in a different way. Suggested that Gaels tend to ask the question “Where do you belong?” “C’aite ‘bhuineas sibh?” not “Where are you from?” Often a bit nervous of using the term “indigenous” as it has so many connotations these days with UKIP about and making progress. When I was in Knoydart you got the feeling and at the time it was subconscious but the guys I met there belonged to the place and that was both at Doune and in general. I never really thought too much about this and it was only with the quote of Aldo’s that made me think just that bit deeper about our connection to the land and how emotional it can get. I do not think you have to be born in a place to belong. There are many people who have come to live in Applecross and have belonged here and have cared for the place to a far greater extent than I have managed as my main struggle was survival and paying off mortgages. There are always going to be scraps and arguments etc within communities regarding land and land use but I fail to see how decisions can be made by people who do not “belong” to those same communities. Visitors often ask where I am from and there is no easy answer as my family is only had a brief stay here, coming from Harris and me growing up in Kyle, but I think I belong to Applecross, maybe to the chagrin of one or two Applecross residents.

Yesterday’s shift at the Inn was far more sensible but still very busy. The world map is up on the wall and we are filling in all the countries that did not arrive last year. I am going to go off on a tangent and see how many States I can get. Yesterday I was talking to guys from Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. Weather still very unsettled and I called off my trip to Uags, although at the time the weather was fine I believed the forecast and it was right.


Today is another day ashore dodging the weather in the garden, getting the bee friendly seeds in book work and blogging. Down the road in the afternoon to fuel up the Auk.




Although not good for fishing the light is wonderful and changes all the time. Met up with the Welsh/Coillieghillie contingent as I was fuelling up and gave Dougal a run back up the road alongside the van. Met Robert, back from Knoydart, on the way up the road and he is experiencing the Knoydart high having just come back from a weekend of music and fun. Our own Applestock is coming closer and was speaking to Sarah this evening about the bar and really looking forward to it. Tickets are selling really well and the excitement factor is rising. It is going to be a busy week-end in three weeks time. There are probably updates and changes from this poster but if there was only half of what is advertised it would be well worth a visit.


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.


Email to Rick Stein.

Something I have never done before and that is email a celebrity chef. Although I confess to having never seen the program, Rick Stein’s Spanish Christmas caught a couple of people’s attention in Applecross. His Spanish friend was putting together a christmas meal she would normally have in Spain and it included langoustine in the seafood platter. Unfortunately the langoustine was heavily laden with berries and it was good to hear that was immediately picked up. So after a couple of days not thinking too much about it I went ahead and sent him an email last night. Very polite I think and explaining that although in a very small minority we put back the berried langoustine in the hope they will survive and release their eggs for future fishermen to catch. Have to say I got a good reply back from his PA saying although he is busy at the moment with new book etc but will reply when convenient. I had pointed out that the main problem is the buyers. If there is a market the fishermen will fill it to the detriment of the stock and sometimes the “market” has to take a responsible position and say we do not want to take part in the continued decline of a fishery. Feel out on my own on this one as a lot of fishermen have completely differing views on this subject but, hey, not the first time this year.


These prawns stayed only very slightly longer on board,for the photo shoot, than other berried langoustine caught by the Varuna. We shall see if anything comes of it.

The weather has been spectacular the beginning of this week, today not so good with it being a bit dreich and an easterly gale blowing but have to stop now and wrap my secret santa pressie and head for the Inn and will leave you with yesterday morning leaving the moorings.This is showing to the north west so it is what you would call surround colour. The scruffy boat has already been spotted and is on the list.


Busy day today which is another post. Maybe even after The Secret Chappie is all over.

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