Western Isles MP Angus B MacNeil has written to Richard Lochhead after being contacted by anxious fishermen who fear that prawn fishing in the Minch could be closed at the end of August, beginning of September, due what seems to be an unusually large fishing effort that has occurred this year.
Mr MacNeil said:“Fishermen up and down the Hebrides have contacted me in an anxious and agitated state about the fact that the Minch fishery might close very early as the effort measured in kw days might have reached 100% with 3 to 4 months of the year remaining, due to larger than usual boats fishing in the Minch. The seriousness of the situation cannot be underestimated, as the fishing will not be sustainable for the year.
“In my view and the views of many fishermen there should be horsepower limits on boats fishing within the 12 miles, which includes the Minch, of 350hp-400hp as an absolute maximum fishing the Minches. Barra for example, has just under 50 working in the fish factory with a further 30 people supplying that from fishing boats who could be lying idle at the end of the year. I am calling on Mr Lochhead to get some sustainable management into the fishery and to ensure that jobs are protected. Fishermen in Harris are equally concerned and see their livelihoods evaporating after two thirds of the year.”
“What is happening now is manifestly failing the local West Coast fishermen of the Hebrides and their communities which have recently been described as some of the most vulnerable in Scotland.”