MSP Jenni Minto, is calling for fishermen to be compensated after new measures were introduced by the Scottish Government to protect cod stocks in the Firth of Clyde.
The Argyll and Bute MSP said: “I was pleased to be able to meet with the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands to raise concerns on behalf of my constituents regarding the closure of the Clyde Cod Box.
“Whilst we need to ensure more sustainable fishing in the waters around Scotland, I believe that this work needs to be done alongside the fishing industry, and I am very concerned about the potential impact in the short term for my constituents.
“I believe compensation must be provided to account for the loss of earnings my constituents will face and I am making the case for this to the Scottish Government.”
An agreement was in place with fishers in the Clyde Marine Area, which covers the Firth, the waters around Bute and Arran and Loch Fyne, to not catch fish between February 14 and April 30 – the spawning period for cod.
An exemption was previously in place to allow langoustine trawlers, creelers and scallop dredgers to use the area during the spawning season but this has now been lifted by the Scottish Government.
Elaine Whyte from The Clyde Fishermen’s Association added: “It’s been a real shock to us, we’ve worked closely with the Government so this has come as a real shock. It’s the breakdown of trust that has been the hardest part.
“Can you imagine being told one day that you aren’t going to have a wage next month? How will these men feed their children? It’s insane. A number of families across the Clyde, and even into Ayrshire have generationally survived on the income from small-scale fishing boats.”
Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Councillor Robin Currie also said: “I have received a number of representations from the Clyde fishing community who are, quite simply, devastated at the potential impact of this decision. I have met with fishing industry representatives on a number of occasions for positive and constructive discussions about their ambition and determination to ensure that this traditional Argyll and Bute sector not only survives but thrives.”
Ministers acknowledged it would have a short-term impact on local fishers.
But the government added that “taking action now” to try to replenish cod stocks for the longer term was “ultimately beneficial” for fishing.
For the past two decades, measures to protect spawning cod in the Firth of Clyde have been in place through the annual 11-week seasonal closure.
The Clyde Cod Box closure – which was supported by fishermen’s groups – targeted net fishing of cod. But there were exemptions to allow bottom contact fishing, be it static/creel fishing or mobile fishing, on the grounds that low numbers of cod were being caught.
The government said that despite this, the stock had shown little sign of recovery, and therefore the exemptions must end.