Lochhead agrees to face-to-face meeting over fishing crisis 27/7/12
Scottish fishing minister Richard Lochhead, has agreed to meet with the Western Isles
Fishermen's Association (WIFA) over the consequences of a part-time ban on island
trawlers fishing for prawns.
Last night and today, Duncan Macinnes of the WIFA has been in telephone conferences
with Richard Lochhead and his officials.
MSP Alasdair Allan and MP Angus Macneil has met with the Western Isles Fishermen's
Association over the issue and asked Richard Lochhead to meet them also.
Mr Allan said: “"The Cabinet Secretary has recognised the importance of the industry
to the Western Isles economy through his recent decision to limit access to the prawn
fishery in many west coast areas to west coast boats.
“It is, however, clear that fishermen have legitimate concerns to ensure that there
remains enough effort allocation for this year for island-based prawn boats to retain
their viability. This is an issue I continue to raise with the government.”
Angus Campbell, leader of Western Isles Council said: "I will be seeking an urgent
meeting with Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead, in a bid to avert what could be
a financial catastrophe for both the local prawn-fishing fleet and the wider economy
of the Outer Hebrides. If these proposals are implemented they could lead to significant
job-losses in both the fish-catching and onshore-processing sectors across the islands.
"In my view it is simply wrong to impose severe restrictions on vessels that have
not altered their fishing pattern to satisfy a Cod Recovery Plan that is fundamentally
flawed and unless challenged will destroy traditional coastal fishing communities.
"It is also fundamentally flawed that Marine Scotland should put out a consultation
document on the afternoon of Tuesday 24th July and require an answer by noon on Thursday
26th July. These are critical issues for our communities and this approach to consultation
is simply unacceptable."
Jamie McGrigor MSP, Scottish Conservative Fisheries spokesman, who raised the matter
with the Scottish Government some weeks ago after it was raised with him by the Western
Isles Fishermen’s Association during his recent visit to the Western Isles and by
other fishing constituents on the west coast, said: “The small west coast prawn boats
are limited in scope and must be able to fish their traditional prawn grounds in
order to maintain their livelihoods.
“The Scottish Government through its agencies must allow west coast fishermen the
means to make a living and they should be aware of what is going on in Scottish waters
so that they can plan for shortfalls.”