For the first time in three years squid has been caught off the Western Isles and available for islanders to buy.
Until now fishermen were prohibited from catching squid under the West of Scotland Cod Recovery Measures but now the restrictions have been ‘relaxed’ in what is hoped will be a much needed boost for the local fishing industry.
Ronnie Scott of Islander Shellfish in Stornoway explained: “This is very important and the demand locally in the fish shop was excellent. Lots of people are enquiring about it locally as well as a lot of the restaurants.”
Mr Scott continued: “The squid is mainly winter fishing in the North Minch, and now the boats can target it with a proper squid net and it doesn’t affect the days at sea. The first boat went out last week, the Sincerity, skippered by Murdo D Murray.”
The squid caught on the first expedition was sold locally as well as through the Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation, with two boxes of squid sold to restaurants in France.
Duncan MacInnes of the Western Isles Fishermen’s’ Association, explained: “In August the Scottish Government relaxed rules to allow vessels to notify Marine Scotland if they are going to fish for squid.”
Mr MacInnes said this allowed the “opportunity for diversity”. He added: “The attraction is it is a non-quota species and there is demand for good quality squid.”
The rule change came about following a local lobby campaign that included processors, fishermen and fishing groups.
It has also been warmly welcomed by Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan. Dr Allan said: “For some time now there has been an effort to ensure a commercial use can be found for a squid fishery in the Isles and I am very pleased that Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead has now ensured that a trial squid fishery can take place. Clearly there is a market for this product.”