Thursday, 19 September 2013

Welcome breakthrough for Hebridean fishermen

We welcome and acknowledge the enormous step forward that has secured by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Fisheries, Richard Lochhead. Issues were raised (as per letter below from Cllr Donald Manford) and Richard Lochhead responded rapidly resulting in great outcomes for the Hebridean fishing industry.

As highlighted in the letter by Cllr Manford dated 17th September 2013, the Norway experience is cited where for small coastal fisheries, if dogfish were caught unavoidably, the live fish were returned to the sea and the remainder permitted to be landed to avoid discards.

Richard Lochhead has allocated significant resources towards a training scheme for fishermen on the use of equipment to facilitate robust scientific research in order to contribute to the information available on the species concerned. The participants of the course will now see the benefits of taking part in the training and will have the opportunity to benefit from this research .

We wholeheartedly thank Mr Lochhead for opening opportunities that have been denied to us previously and his willingness to respond so promptly to our raising of identifying methods in which to achieve more benefits for the Western Isles fishermen.

In  order that more fishermen can benefit from these opportunities, we request that the minister extends the training opportunities he made available earlier this year


Sandwick Road, Stornoway, HS1 2BW

Rathad Shanndabhaig, Steornabhagh, HS1 2BW

Richard Lochhead MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment
St Andrew’s House, Regent Road
Edinburgh. EH1 3DG.
Councillor, Barraigh, Bhatersaigh, Eirisgeigh agus Uibhist a Deas
29 Eoligarry
Telephone: 01871 890288

 17th September 2013.

Dear Minister,

I write to express my thanks and appreciation for your letter, also your very prompt attention you have given to the matters we raised with you is particularly appreciated.

Your welcome success in having the prohibition on squid fishing lifted, is expected to provide seasonal alternatives in addition to the existing permitted species, and widens considerably the opportunities available to the Western Isles fishermen.

I am delighted   also with the progress being made in regard to dogfish.  I entirely agree with your view that a targeted fishery would be inappropriate, if not counterproductive.  A correct approach we concur, is a bycatch, non-discard approach, promoting avoidance and of course, returning live dogfish to the sea.

Most welcome is your interest in the Norway fishery model which banned all directed fishery of dogfish in 2011, with the exception of a limited fishery for small coastal vessels.  Bycatch (not exceeding 20% of total landings) continues to be landed and sold as before.  Live specimens are released, whereas dead specimens must be landed.

With another dogfish season fast approaching, we eagerly await the outcome of our Bid, to the Fishing Industry Science Alliance (FISA) led by the Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS) in expectation of making further progress.

I am delighted to support and assist with a number of further initiatives being pursued by Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan which fishermen are keen to promote to further enhance the viability of their industry.

Yours faithfully,

Donald Manford