Oct 7 2011 by Patricia Lewis, Dumfries Standard Friday
Scallop ban threatens local fishing trade
A BAN on scallop fishing could threaten jobs in Kirkcudbright.
The warning came from the boss of one of the town’s largest employers.
John King, managing director of West Coast Sea Products, was stunned at the extent of the ban which was introduced by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) on Sunday.
It covers fishing area seven which extends from the Irish Sea to the south coast of England as far as Dover. Mr King said: “I have never seen a ban this big before, not in my 35 years as a fisherman. It was a shock when we found out.”
West Coast Sea Products, which employs 183 people, depends on the waters for much of its business. And Mr King fears that jobs could be under threat if the decision to halt scallop fishing carries on for a long time.
He added: “If the ban is not lifted by the end of the month then it will have a hard impact on the industry.
“It is not only in Kirkcudbright, there will be problems everywhere. We can still fish for scallops off the east coast of Scotland but there’s not as many.”
The MMO introduced the ban because it expects the UK to exceed the limit on the number of days British boats are allowed to fish for scallops this year.
However, it could be lifted if the organisation can secure a swap on fishing days with other EU countries. But there is no indication of when, or even if, that will happen.
Local politicians are unhappy at the situation.
Councillor Tommy Jacques said: “This causes great concern because of the fishing industry we have in Kirkcudbright.
“A lot of local people work in the industry and this could affect them. We are pressing for a meeting with Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead to get this resolved.”
MSP Dr Aileen McLeod said: “I recognise that there are ongoing efforts to negotiate a swap in fishing quotas which would allow scallop fishing to recommence. In a local context however, with the current consideration of additional methods to manage scallop dredging in Luce Bay, this news could not really have come at a worse time.”
A spokesman for the MMO said: “Administrations have tried to manage this position by arranging appropriate international swaps (of fishing days) with other member states to bring in the effort required.
“At this point, however, the negotiations have not been concluded.”