Quayside event held in Broch Mission

Livelihood: Skippers Ian Duthie, Alistair Bruce (back), Stephen West and PJ McLean (front).
Livelihood: Skippers Ian Duthie, Alistair Bruce (back), Stephen West and PJ McLean (front).

The fifth in a series of ‘Quayside Conversations’ was held in Fraserburgh recently.

The event was held at the Fishermen’s Mission and was attended by fishermen and others involved in the fishing industry.

The meeting took the form of a question and answer session, and was led by Mike Palmer and Greg Chalmers who answered questions from the floor.

Commenting prior to the start of the Q&A session, a Marine Scotland spokesperson said: “We see this as a valuable opportunity to exchange information with the industry at the quayside, hearing directly from skippers about their concerns and issues and to properly inform our policies.

“Equally, it is an opportunity for us to explain the role of Marine Scotland in developing policies for fisheries in Scotland and implementing EU regulations.”

The event was started with an introduction from Mike Palmer who is Head of the Sea Fisheries division at Marine Scotland. He started by saying: “It is important to talk to you. We are trying to get a good feel for what the key issues are.

“We will be putting reports of all these Quayside Conversations back to Richard Lochhead.”

During the question and answer session, a wide range of issues were raised.

The first questioner accused Marine Scotland of scare-mongering. In response, Mike Palmer explained that gears had to be adapted quickly due to commitments made to the EU.

A second member of the audience said that money should not have been spent on grids, and should instead have been spent on developing nets. The discussion turned to issues including trials of the grid and gear trials.

A third contributor commented: “Cod recovery has backfired big-time on prawn fishermen.”

Mike Palmer said: “Cod is more abundant now. We have to be comprehensive in the approach we take. We’re in a transition phase.

“Growth of cod is happening. We’re getting close to maximum sustainable yield levels.”

Another person present at the meeting said: “We’re letting cod through our nets to allow fishermen from other countries take the cod.”

The discussion included worries about the number of days given to TR1 and TR2 boats, and concerns were also raised about the lack of young people coming into the industry.