Fishing order could decimate Tarbert industry

A TARBERT fisherman claims up to 50 jobs in the village may be lost if a Firth of Clyde fishery regulating order is imposed, reports Mark Davey in today’s Argyllshire Advertiser.
Kenny MacNab, 59, the chairman of the Clyde Fisherman’s Association, spoke out after meetings organised by the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT) in Tarbert and Inveraray last week.
It seems fishermen’s jobs lost is just the tip of the iceberg and that SIFT’s proposals for a Firth of Clyde regulating order, covering scallop and prawn fishing, could cause processing plant job losses and put hauliers out of business.
In addition, MacNab (pictured) claimed that restricting the Clyde fishery could jeopardise up to 100 jobs at a shellfish processing plant in Uddingston, which was built, two years ago, at a cost of £1.6 million with 40 per cent from a government grant.
SIFT claims the order would manage the Firth of Clyde in a different way to help it achieve good ecological status by 2020 as required by the European Union’s marine strategy framework directive.
The order would include fishing vessels being licensed, a curfew with no scallop fishing before 6am or after 9pm, a king scallop minimum landing size of 110mm and a ban on the French dredge.
MacNab said: ‘The Clyde is the most regulated part of the Scottish coast; we already have a weekend ban.
‘Boats are limited to below 70ft long, plus we have technical measures on the trawling gear. Net mesh size prohibits by catch, we are only taking shellfish, so it is a very ‘clean’ fishery.’
SIFT executive director Charles Millar said: ‘This is the preliminary round of discussions, when the information is submitted it will be opened up to public consultation, including by the Scottish government because of the views being given by the fishing community.’
MacNab’s family has fished from Tarbert for five generations but now he fears that could be lost and the knock on effect could even make the village unviable.
He said: ‘The Scottish government want rural communities to be sustainable and Tarbert is at the moment, but it would not take much to sway it the other way.’
He has been lobbying MSPs and regularly travels to Edinburgh to make sure Tarbert’s fishermen have a voice.
Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said: ‘I have made it clear to SIFT and the local fishing communities that the only way a regulating order could be introduced would be by negotiation and agreement with all involved.
‘There is no reason why a sensible compromise cannot be reached because it is in everyone’s interest to secure a sustainable long term fishery but nothing can nor should be imposed.
‘I will be seeing SIFT this week to make that point.’