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Hebrides and west coast of Scotland: The social and cultural importance of the coastal fishing communities and their contribution to food security

David Thomson
Wester Covesea Cottage 3
near Elgin, Morayshire, Scotland IV 30 5QX, UK


The Hebrides and west coast of Scotland are peopled largely by the descendants of Gauls or Celtic peoples of two milleniums ago who were pushed to the western fringes of Europe by the Roman Empire. They eventually settled along the Atlantic coast in Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, where, to varying degrees they have preserved their language to this day.

The coastal region of Gaelic speaking Scotland extends from the Mull of Kintyre in the south to Cape Wrath in the north, and includes most of the islands known as the inner and outer Hebrides. Extending into the Atlantic westward of that coastline and its islands, lie the huge sea areas designated by ICES as VIa and VIb. The sea areas include the remote and now uninhabited rocks and islands of Rockall, St. Kilda, and the Flannan Isles. It is estimated that over 1 000 000 tons of fish are taken from the area each year by the combined efforts of man and animals.

The Celts or Gaels were primarily a farming people, hunter-gatherers at first, then husbanders of cattle, and latterly also cultivators of cereals like oats, barley and rye. Fish and fishing were of minor interest and importance to them till a couple of centuries ago. Their contribution to food security lay mainly in the cultivation of lands exposed to the sea and the cold, wet climate, and in the development of a lifestyle that they could support from the earth which yielded them starch food, meat, fuel (peat), and building materials for their turf and stone 'black' cottages with their primitive wooden rafters.[4]

In the 19th century the people were driven off the land and resettled along the coast on small strips of land which were inadequate for growing crops or raising animals. The evictions, now known as the Clearances, were perpetrated in the name of economic progress, to enable the landowners to extract greater profits from their estates. The sea then became the people's bread-basket and its resources the major source of their income for the next 200 years.[5]

Their approach to fishing was constrained by their lack of capital, and often subject to the cultural and religious patterns of their lifestyle. Outsiders thought it smacked of lack of enterprise, and development of indigenous fishing fleets was slow. But it ensured a gentle impact on the marine environment, and would have achieved a sustainable fishery in the long term. The coastal waters were a mosaic of sea lochs, sounds, firths and minches which abounded in herring, mackerel, salmon, cod, haddock, hake, flatfish, prawns, crabs and lobsters.

The kind of fishing fleet which grew followed the Scottish pattern of relatively small family-owned boats which operated on an equitable share system, skippers and deckhands receiving equal shares of the crew's allocation which was 50 percent of the proceeds from catch sales, less the operating expenses. The arrangements ensured a spread of financial benefits from fishing throughout each community.

The fishery resources were subjected to escalating pressure by fleets of vessels from outside, throughout the 20th century. By 1980 the coastal waters had little left but shellfish. At the same time, a new management regime which was introduced to curb excessive fishing effort, was applied to the local small scale fleet with equal severity and perhaps unintended but damaging social impacts.[6]

Following the introduction of licenses and quota entitlements to the fishery under the EU Common Fisheries Policy regime in the late 1970's and early 1980's, these pieces of paper began to assume a value and became tradable commodities with the tacit approval of the Government and the EC. By the mid-1990's the trade was effectively removing access to the fishery from the small scale fishing ports and communities and concentrating it in the hands of large and wealthy corporations. The cost of licenses and quotas now far exceeds the cost of a fishing boat and all its equipment. The fishermen and fishing communities of the Hebrides and West Coast are losing their modest share of the local fish resource as a direct result of the trade in entitlement.

This case study is an attempt to describe the efforts of the Gaelic speaking Celts and other west coast inhabitants to maintain fish food supplies and protect the livelihoods and economic base of coastal communities, in the face of resource depletion, and negative aspects of management measures. Cultural attitudes and fish harvesting patterns that might be regarded by some monetarists as out-dated and inefficient, may hold the key to the region's fishery and economic future.


2.1 The study area: topography and climate

This case study focuses on the coastal fishing communities of the Hebrides and the west coast of Scotland as far as the Mull of Kintyre including its east coast to the head of Loch Fyne. This region has over 90 per cent of the Gaelic speaking people of Scotland, though there has been considerable inter-mixing. Islands included are the inner and outer Hebrides, Skye, Lewis, Harris, Uist, Benbecula and Barra, plus the smaller islands. The southern islands are also included among which the largest are Mull, Jura and Islay. The mainland west coast is normally reckoned from Cape Wrath, but this study area begins at Strathy Point to the east of Cape Wrath, bringing in a few more small fishing villages of Celtic origin. This is also the eastern point of the Kinlochbervie fishery district for statistical purposes[7].

The area under study is smaller than (less than half) that covered by the Highlands and Islands administrative region. The whole study region has a land area of 1.6 million ha or 16 000 km2. That is just over a fifth of the land area of Scotland, and corresponds to the region of the Fraser Darling West Highland survey which was completed in 1955[8].

The sea area fished by local fleets has two parts, each approximately 6 000 mi2 or 15 500 km2. The inner area is composed of the North and South Minches, and the Firths, Lochs, and Sounds, down to the Mull of Kintyre. The outer area is the 25 mile zone drawn from baselines connecting the promontories of the Butt of Lewis, Cape Wrath, West Lewis, West Uist, Mingulay, South-West Islay and the Mull of Kintyre. Together, the inner and outer sea areas measure around 12 000 mi2 or 31 000 km2, which is less than 4.0 per cent of the EU Atlantic common pond, and only 19 percent of ICES area VIa, the adjacent statistical area for fish quotas and total allowable catches.

The climate of the study region is wet and windy, similar to the west of Ireland from where the original Celtic tribe of Scotti came when they first settled in Scotland. The Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream protect the area from severe cold in winter, and can bring balmy weather in summer, though interspersed unpredictably with rain and wind.

The region has a despoiled landscape as described by the naturalist Fraser Darling[9]. The soil is poor and requires nurturing. The forcible removal of the people from the interior land ended centuries of beneficial cultivation and helped to make it the wilderness it is today. Forest cover, once widespread in the days of the Forest of Caledon, is now negligible due to man's rape of that resource over the centuries. What damage the forest removal did to the soil was severely aggravated by the introduction of enormous quantities of sheep in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The sheep herds had to be considerably reduced after the first 50 years, but introduction of deer added to the ecological problems in the later 19th century.

2.2 Population and population change

The Highlands and Islands region had an estimated population of 337 000 persons in 1750, and 472 000 in 1841[10]. After the turn of the century it fell to less than 400 000 and by 1997 was down to 364 000 or less depending on which administrative boundary is taken. Scotland itself experienced a net migration of its people over the 20th century, but the loss of population was proportionally greatest in the highlands and islands. The area under study, remains the most vulnerable area for population loss in the country. The Western Isles population has fallen by 40 per cent in this century, from 46 172 to 28 880. Projections are for still further decreases[11].

Emigration was due in the 19th century to the effect of the Clearances and more directly to famine, especially that of the mid 1840's. Later emigration has been as a result of lack of economic opportunity at home. Also, as it has been the younger and more ambitious persons who have left home, the remaining population has been older, less productive, and less enterprising. Birth rates have also fallen.

The study area is almost identical to the West Highland Survey region which according to Fraser Darling had a population of 200 955 in 1831 and 127 081 in 1931[12]. By 1951 it had fallen to 119 071. Today, the region is estimated to contain only 76 000 persons, indicating a drop of 36 per cent since 1951. The area's estimated population of 76 000 is made up in round figures, of 28 500 in the Western Isles, 23 500 on the Highland west coast and Skye, and 24 000 in western Argyll and its islands[13]. The population is fairly equally divided into urban (small town) dwellers, those in crofting communities, and those in rural villages and farms. Within the study area the main towns are Stornoway, Mallaig, Fort William, Oban, and Campbeltown. In addition to these small towns, there are around 80 villages and a few hundred hamlets, "clachans" or clusters of houses. Crofts tend to be more scattered around the coast.

Just over half of the population of 76 000 are considered economically active, and about a third (26 000) are in active employment[14]. The fishery sector with its ancillary and service industries is one of the largest employers in the area. Including fish farming, fish processing and service industries, there are close to 5 000 persons dependent directly or indirectly on the sector for work and income. This represents close to 20 percent of those in employment. Since the region is already so vulnerable to emigration, and already faces other economic difficulties, it cannot afford to lose its fishing industry.

On the other hand, as the study demonstrates, given proper participatory management and a fair share of the coastal fish resource, fishery sector employment could be doubled in the area. This would have a massive impact on the local economy, and would probably effectively end migration from the region. As a recent report put it: "The benefits of the fishing industry must be viewed in the context of the social and economic conditions of the area, (which) is one of the most remote rural and peripheral parts of the European Community. (These) factors ... combined with its poor soils and the harshness of the terrain and climate, impose disadvantages on a wide range of economic activities "[15].

2.3 Infrastructure, communications and economy

The region is well served by paved roads of A and B categories (2 lane, 2 way), though the approach roads to Mallaig and some smaller fishing villages, are single track. There are railway lines to Mallaig through Fort William and Oban, and to the Kyle of Lochalsh from Inverness. Sea ferries ply the routes to the islands from and through Tarbert, Oban, Tobermory, Mallaig, Uig, and Ullapool. There are small airports at Stornoway, Benbecula, and Campbeltown on the Mull of Kintyre. At Barra, a regular air service used the beach as a landing strip. The aircraft used are being phased out due to age and the airline claims it is no longer possible to get suitable planes to land on a beach. So Barra may soon lose its air link. (Note: regular plane services in Canada land on ice and water, and in Africa and the Pacific on desert land, beaches, or sand strips cut in the bush).

A bridge built to the island of Skye from the mainland at Kyle, has displaced the ferry service. But to the islanders' astonishment, the bridge toll was made equal to the old ferry charges. A series of protests and acts of civil disobedience followed the application of the high bridge tolls, and the matter is still in dispute. No other toll bridge in Britain is subject to such high user fees.

Apart from fisheries and fish farming, the other industries of consequence are tourism, crofting, sheep and deer farming, whisky distilling, tweed production and knitting, and service industries. Production of Harris tweed is in decline. This industry which employed 1 300 persons 30 years ago, now employs less than 350.

The area suffers from high costs as can be expected from its remoteness. Fruit and vegetables are over 30 percent more expensive than they are on the east coast. Fuel is 10 to 24 percent more expensive, depending on the location. Average earnings are also less than the east coast and central belt by 10 to 20 percent. The island communities are hit hard by transport costs. The cost of air travel is two and a half times dearer, a ticket from Stornoway to Glasgow costing £1.48 ($2.40) per mile compared with £0.56 ($0.90) per mile for one from Glasgow to London. Ferry costs make barley and beet (cattle feed) more than twice as expensive as on the mainland, and hay more than three times as expensive[16].


3.1 Origin of the Gaels, early history, and clan structure

The Scottish Gaels or Gaelic-speaking Celts who replaced the Picts as the main settlers in the western Highlands and the Hebrides, came from Ireland 1 000 to 1 800 years ago. By the 13th century they had displaced Norse rulers who controlled the islands after centuries of Viking raids[17]. The Celts brought with them the Gadelic form of the Gaelic language which remains closer to Irish than to Welsh. They also brought with them the Celtic peoples penchant for poetry and music. Their apparel developed over the centuries, but was based on the plaid which developed into the plaid and kilt, and was made of woven cloth with check patterns from which came the tartans of the modern kilt industry[18]. Much of the cultural image of Scotland is drawn from the clan system, music, and clothing of its Celtic people.

A clan system was developed with kinship determining loyalties and cattle grazing rights. Each clan followed its chief with unquestioning loyalty. The title Lord of the Isles went to the leading clan Donald chief after the departure of the Norse rulers, and was held by the MacDonald clan leaders till it was abolished by James IV in the 15th century[19].

"The clan system" wrote Fraser Darling, "was entirely different from feudalism[20]. The land upon which the clan lived was not the property of the chief; it belonged to the tribe, and the chief was maintained by its members and given implicit obedience as the defender of the territory of the people, and head of the race".

The people practised animal husbandry, based mainly on black cattle, and farmed some oats and barley for meal and bread. A kind of joint cultivation and crop rotation system known now as "run-rig" was practised on inter-mixed, narrow strips of land[21]. The rigs were long high mounds of earth usually constructed parallel to the contours of the land. The potato, though known in the region by 1695 as mentioned by Martin Martin, was not widely cultivated till the late 1700's[22].

3.2 Relations with the monarchs of Scotland and England

Stewart kings reigned in Scotland from 1371 to 1603 (the union of the crowns), and in the United Kingdom (as "Stuarts") from 1603 till 1714. The Highlanders have had a long history of costly support for Stewart kings or "pretenders" (the Jacobite cause).

The historical watershed for the Highlanders and island dwellers was the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 which they largely supported (one's involvement depending on which side the clan chief was on, rather than one's religion). It attempted to put a Stewart king back on the throne of Britain, in place of the Hanoverian monarch. The rebellion came to an end in 1746 at the battle of Culloden and its brutal aftermath. General 'butcher' Cumberland sent his troops on a mission to kill and harry the remaining Jacobites, and to waste their villages. This was carried out without mercy[23].

The Government of King George II then banned the carrying of arms, the wearing of the kilt or tartan, and the playing of the bagpipes[24]. Lands were taken from disloyal chiefs and given to the King's followers. These measures were ameliorated or lifted after some years but by then the people were crushed in spirit, rather like the Red Indians of north America a century later, to whom they have often been compared[25]. As one writer has described the measures succinctly, "The Gaelic culture itself was condemned"[26].

In the century following Culloden (the last battle on British soil), the region suffered from what is known as "the Clearances", a brutal eviction of farming tenants from the land to make room for more profitable sheep[27]. The events started a huge tide of emigration which has not yet subsided. The families who stayed were concentrated on narrow strips of coastal land which were too small to support them[28]. Much of the present vulnerability of Hebridean and west coast people is due to the legacy of limited access to land. The situation makes their declining access to sea resources all the more critical.

3.3 Food production systems

A fascinating glimpse of Hebridean life 300 years ago is provided by Martin Martin in his Description of the Western Isles of Scotland. He repeatedly refers in that work to the abundance of fish and shellfish, and to the uses the people made of both for food and medication. Seaweed was also used for food and medicine and both seabirds and sea mammals were eaten for food. Fish were preserved by drying and salting but as salt was scarce and expensive, ashes of seaweeds were often used as a preservative[29].

On his tour of the Hebrides with Dr Johnson, eighty years later, James Boswell commented on the use of fish livers to make oil for both tanning and lamp fuel purposes[30]. The lamp oil was made from the livers of saithe or coalfish. At various points in the tour, the learned Doctor was offered fish in different forms including speldings, dried salted haddock or whiting, but declined to eat them ! In 1875 St. Kilda residents exported over 500 gallons of oil from seabirds, for use as medication[31]. Dairy produce was available in the pre-Clearance period when cattle were farmed, but became scarce afterwards, even as late as the 1940's, as reported by the naturalist Fraser Darling when he lived in the area[32].

Reliance on the potato as the main starch food source, from the late 18th century onwards, may have been a factor in the growth in population in the century from 1770 to 1870. But it brought severe problems later when the potato crop failed in the mid 19th century. "The common folk of the Islands and the west had a very low standard of living, and by giving themselves up to nurture by the potato without raising their standard of living, became the victims of their own remarkable fertility and fecundity, and hostages to the health of the potato plant"[33].

Food was rarely plentiful in the Highlands and Hebrides, and the threat of famine lurked ever in the background. "Great scarcity", says one writer, "was part of the mentality of the Highlander". A Sutherland estate improver remarked in 1812, "It is the custom of highlandmen that they will not admit anything like want until hunger stare them in the face"[34].

Famine struck the Hebrides and west Highlands several times during the 18th and 19th centuries, -- in the 1770's, the 1820's, and, most severely, from 1840 to 1851 with its worst period in 1846[35]. The famine of the 1840's was due mainly to the potato blight caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans[36] which had also struck Ireland causing great human misery and death.

In a survey of nutrition in 1843, no parishes in the west highlands and islands reported any beef, butter, cheese or tea in the diet, but almost all reported fish and potatoes (see Table 1 below).

Apart from potatoes, fresh vegetables were grown in very small quantities in the region until after the war. Fish sauce was a common meal, nutritious but less than popular. It was made by boiling fish or fish heads and bones, to which was added some oatmeal and milk.

Table 1: Percentage of Parishes reporting certain Foods at meals in 1843[37]







NW Coast












West Argyll






3.4 Attitudes to land

No description of the people of the Western Isles and the Highlands of Scotland, would be complete without reference to their remarkable attachment to their land. The historian T.C. Smout wrote that "Gaelic Scotland shared with Gaelic Ireland, a cultural view of the land in which it was not so much private property, as a common resource: The landlord had a right to charge a rent , but not to deprive the people of the use of the land." Elsewhere he noted that where Gaelic culture was most intact the people regarded "the occupation of a traditional area of land was the greatest good life had to offer"[38].

Sir John McNeil the Chairman of the Board for the Supervision of Poor Relief in Scotland, sent to the Hebrides at the time of the potato famine, 1846, wanted to encourage large scale migration, but recognized it would be difficult in view of "the tenacity of their attachment to the soil"[39]. The attitude was put most poetically by Lewis Grassic Gibbon who spoke of the vanishing crofter as "the man with the house and the steading of his own, and the land closer to his heart than the flesh of his body"[40].

A British Fisheries Society letter reported in 1787: "Their sole attention is in a manner fixed to the produce of the Earth, their sole object is to get a Farm, and a patch of ground however small is infinitely preferred to any other mode of getting a living"[41].

Crofting systems and crofters can only be understood against the background of the people's view of land ownership or occupation as their greatest security. Remarkably, this attachment to the land is a feature of the people in a region where enormous tracts of land are owned and controlled by a handful of persons[42].

A chronicler of the time[43] wrote, "They clung to the land because it seemed their only guarantee of subsistence and of continuity of life. These people were the remnants of a feudal system which had ebbed away, leaving them stranded in remote glens and straths".


4.1 Fish as food, and as a source of income

Until the end of the eighteenth century, fish was important to the Hebrides primarily as a source of protein food. From the beginning of the nineteenth century till the present time, the resource has been increasingly important as a source of income, jobs, and local industry. Now as the region enters the new millennium, it is in danger of losing that resource just as the people lost their access to land, 200 years ago.

Martin Martin chronicled around 1695, an abundance of fish and seafood which was eaten by the residents of the Western Isles, and which formed the bulk of their protein intake. "All the coasts and bays ... do in fair weather abound with cod, ling, herring, and all sorts of fishes taken in Western Islands. ... The settling of a fishery in those parts would prove of great advantage to the Government, and be an effectual means to advance the revenue"[44].

Fish oil and seaweed were also used to make a variety of medicines. The flesh and liver of seals were used to cure diarrhea and dysentery. The green sea-plant linarich was applied to the temples and forehead to dry up discharges[45]. Some seaweeds like dulse and carrageen were also eaten.

From the early part of the 19th century, the importance of fish for income grew until by 1900, its economic value outweighed its food value for the local population. By far the greater part of crofter income was coming from fishing by the mid-nineteenth century. It was monies earned from fishing that enabled the people to survive the potato famine of the 1840's[46]. By the later 1800's, the factors or land leasing agents, were taking fish as payment for rent. The factor for St. Kilda took over 1 080 fish from its tenants in 1875[47].

The region's fishing industry really started to grow after 1850. At the start of the century there had been 797 small boats engaged in the herring fishing on the west coast. But these were all small open boats of primitive construction[48]. Larger, more seaworthy boats were built in the 1800's and by 1883 there were 138 of these active in the western isles herring fishery, and 62 in Campbeltown[49]. By 1890, 75 percent of all crofters relied on fishing for their main income[50]. The Hebrides and west coast fleet grew to over 500 mechanised and 900 sail boats between the world wars, and to over 1 100 motorised, and 300 sail boats by 1947 after the second world war. Fishermen employment increased to over 4 300 by 1950[51].

Seasonal employment in the east coast herring fishery gave a considerable income boost to thousands of Hebridean fishermen and women. The men worked as hired hands on Scottish drifters and the women as gutting girls, for the curers ashore. The main east coast season was in the autumn, and based in east Anglia at Yarmouth and Lowestoft. By 1906, Stornoway alone had over 2 000 fishermen and 2 300 women working seasonally in the fishery each year[52].

In some parts of the islands and west coast, old methods of curing are still in use, such as salting and drying small haddock or whiting (speldings) for roasting over an open fire[53]. Scotch cure salt herring, once the major Scottish fish product, are still made by some families, chiefly for home consumption. Seaweed is also sometimes eaten. Carrageen or Chondrus crispus is still used in making a milk pudding, and dulse or Rhodymenia palmata is eaten fresh or cooked[54]. Sheep and cattle may be given a seaweed supplement to their diet. Sheep in North Ronaldsay eat seaweed on the foreshore for part of the year[55].

From 1965, when the Highlands and Islands Development Board was established, it became financially easier for local fishermen to obtain fishing boats. The indigenous fleet grew in the 1960's and 1970's with some new and second hand vessels, including seine net boats for demersal fish, small prawn trawlers and creel boats. Catches and landings on the west coast grew to a peak in the 1970's and 1980's, boosted chiefly by the growing fleet of east coast vessels based permanently in west coast ports. Then the decline began[56].

4.2 The indigenous stocks of fish and shellfish

The sea extending west from the Hebrides into the Atlantic ocean yields over 900 000 tons of food fish each year, but local fishermen harvest only 3 percent of the amount, and east coast fishermen based permanently on the west coast take another 4 percent.

ICES Areas VIa and VIb extend from the Hebrides and West Coast, out into the Atlantic Ocean and beyond the 200 mile EEZ over which Britain has management authority, (though that is now subject to the EU fisheries regime).

A fish stock estimate for areas VIa and VIb can be obtained from taking the EU TAC for the area, for the ten major fish species, and adding a proportion of the regional herring and mackerel TACs, which are not sub-divided, then adding also the area allocation of blue whiting and horse mackerel, and the area catch of sprats, deepwater fish, dogfish, skates, and shellfish excluding nephrops which are already in the TAC figures. Depending on which year's TAC is used, the total estimate lies between 500 000 and 600 000 tons. The figures have been discussed with Marine Laboratory scientists who also point out that there is not much fish in area VI, except around Rockall, and that the stocks in VIa lie mostly in the eastern half of the area, over the continental shelf.

It should be recognised however, that the severe fishing pressure of the past 20 years, and the largely uncontrolled application of modern technology, have depleted the stocks of fish once abundant in the coastal waters. It will take time and good firm management to restore the inshore fish resource to its former abundance. That such a recovery can take place is evident from two previous five year periods. The first is the 1940-45 period when fishing activity was much reduced during the war. In the years following, 1946 to 56 and beyond, fish were abundant in British coastal waters including the Minches and the Firth of Clyde. Fraser Darling referred to the abundance and how it was depleted by English trawlers which towed their nets in inshore grounds on the west coast[57]. The second period of evidence is in the years following the five year ban on herring fishing, 1977-83 (1978-1981 on the west coast). The herring stock which had been drastically reduced, recovered well after the years of prohibition[58].

At present, indigenous Hebridean and west coast fishermen harvest less than three percent of the estimated regional stock, around 25 000 tons, and the amount continues to fall[59]. Another 35 000 tons landed on the west coast is taken by east coast vessels permanently stationed there. The indigenous Hebridean and west coast fishermen have only a minute share of the resource in the sea area immediately adjacent, and which their forefathers have harvested for centuries. Seals, seabirds and cetaceans consume over 220 000 tons of fish each year, and an additional 80 000 tons is dumped or discarded at sea due to EU quota management rules. The total fish mortality from predation and fishing activities is therefore calculated as follows:

Table 2: Estimate of amount of fish harvested annually from ICES areas VIa and Vib (in tons)

Fish harvested by the indigenous local fleet

25 000

Fish harvested by locally based east coast boats

35 000

Fish harvested by other Scottish, and UK fleets

180 000

Fish harvested by EU country fleets

290 000

Discards by UK and EU vessels

80 000

Fish taken outside the EEZ by non-EU vessels

40 000

Estimated seabird predation

70 000

Estimated seal predation

120 000

Estimated cetacean predation

160 000

Estimated total of catches and predation in VIa and Vib

1 000 000

Notes : Total EU TAC and non-quota stocks for areas VIa and VIb are calculated at 560 000 tons, including herring, mackerel, blue whiting and sand eels [60].

Fish taken outside the 200 mile EEZ by non-EU vessels is mainly mackerel, horse mackerel, blue whiting and deep water species.

Discards amount is estimated on one sixth of North Sea total discards estimate of 600 000 tons, or one 7th of the area catch. The North Sea discards estimate is one seventh of the North Sea catch.

Seal, seabird and cetacean predation figures are based on researched population and consumption rates.

4.3 The decline in landings and fish stocks

As recently as the 1980's fish landings in the region exceeded a quarter of a million tons. An additional 400 000 tons taken from the regional waters, were landed elsewhere. Much of the fish caught in ICES area VI is now landed in France, Spain, England, and on the east coast of Scotland. Actual landings in the region have diminished to less than 60 000 tons (1998). The reasons for this are threefold; first, east coast pelagic vessels take their catches elsewhere now that the East European and Russian factory ships no longer come to buy fish, lacking the necessary hard currency; second, under the CFP, quotas for the region are granted to European fleets as well as British vessels, and these take their catches home, although a few, mainly French vessels, land occasionally in Ullapool; and thirdly, the local stocks are greatly diminished owing to the cumulative effects of severe fishing pressure and management measures which are having a negative effect.

Francis Thompson wrote in 1988, " the days are long past when one could take a small boat a mile or two from the shore, drop a hand line and arrive home an hour later with a good catch of haddock, mackerel and saithe. ... At the present time the once rich waters of the Minch are now sadly depleted "[61].

There is a wealth of testimony to the diminished condition of west coast fishing stocks. The two Minches and the Firth of Clyde used to support huge annual cod fisheries, had substantial stocks of whiting and haddock, and yielded valuable by-catches of monkfish, sole, and skate. Herring stocks were also abundant each year. This was in the pre- and post-war periods, but little of those fisheries remain, having been depleted during the sixties, seventies and eighties when technology and vessel power increased, and the limited protection such as the three mile limit was removed. The CFP single species quotas which created the enormous discards problem, added to the destruction[62].

The Anatomy of Scotland, published in 1992, states that "Fishermen have seen local stock depleted by the incursion of the east coast and European fishing fleets which they have been powerless to stop"[63]. Dr James Hunter has recorded the considered views of leading Hebridean fishermen that "greed and modern technology have killed the fishing" [64].

Landings data tell only part of the story since the fleets of seiners and trawlers from Kinlochbervie, Lochinver, and Mallaig, now fish much farther afield than their predecessors did in the 1950's and 1960's. Fishing within the Minches and Firths is now largely restricted to prawn trawling and prawn creeling, with some other shellfish and inshore netting activities. Appeals by local fishery associations to authorities for serious study of west coast stocks has to date met with only token response[65]. Also, as previously noted, 50 percent of the fish landed at west coast ports is taken by east coast vessels. Thus the income and employment benefits from that share of the catch goes to east coast fishing towns.

The enormous herring resource was fished so heavily in the 1970's that the Government had to impose a ban on capture until the stocks recovered[66]. The ban lasted for 5 years in the North Sea, and three years off the west coast. A large fishing "box" to the west of the Hebrides now affords some protection to spawning herring for part of the year.

Demersal species were also heavily fished, to the point that the Minches and the Firth of Clyde are largely bereft of them, and west coast trawlers must now fish well offshore to obtain adequate catches. It is believed that the recent development of pelagic trawling to catch schools of cod in the Irish Sea is preventing spawning cod from reaching the Firth as they did in former times. The prawn stock has remained in the coastal grounds, but average sizes of prawns have been considerably reduced, and creelers now operate 5 to 10 times as many traps as before to obtain the same quantity of prawns[67]. Table 3 illustrates the changes in technology and fishing power which have come about in the west coast fisheries during the 20th century.

Today, as a result of uncontrolled fishing pressure utilising modern technology, the inshore and coastal waters of the Hebrides and west coast are denuded of resources which were once so abundant. An editorial in a national fisheries journal in 1996 stated "The reason for the decline in these communities (fishing villages), is down to one simple factor - the poor state of fish stocks on inshore grounds. .... it should not be beyond our wit to ... work out management measures to rejuvenate formerly productive grounds"[68].


5.1 Historical periods of regional fishery development

This study reveals five distinct periods of fishery development in the region in the past 500 years: two early periods from the 15th to the 20th century, and three modern periods since 1930. These periods, and the nature of the developments, are summarised in Table 4 below.

5.2 The British Fishery Society and fishery related commissions of enquiry

In 1786, the British Fisheries Society was formed, under the auspices of the Highland Society, largely due to the efforts of John Knox and his concerns for the people and the region. Knox had written a massive book describing the region, its fishery possibilities, and the misery of its inhabitants[69]. At that time Hebridean fishing boats were small and of poor construction, some even with hawsers and rigging made of twisted tree roots. A few larger vessels operated from Stornoway and in Loch Fyne. Barra fishermen cured their own herring and took them all the way to Glasgow in open boats, a hazardous undertaking. In 1783 four of five boats attempting that journey were lost at sea with all their crews[70].

The British Fisheries Society established fishing and curing stations in Tobermory, Barra, Skye, and at Ullapool, which was laid out as a model fishing village. This was the start of improvements to coastal villages and harbours which was to continue intermittently until the present time. The completion of railway lines to Mallaig and Kyle in the 1890's was an enormous boost to west coast fishing, since fresh fish could be taken to Glasgow and London in a matter of hours.

Table 3: Vessel Power and Fishing Gear used in Fisheries off Scotland's West Coast

Herring and Mackerel


1900 – 1950

1900 - 1970


drift nets

ring nets


30 – 80 ft sail, motor, steam

2 × 40 – 65 ft, 30 – 150 hp


100 crans (20 tons)

2 × 150 crans (2 × 30 tons)


1970 – 2000

1970 – 2000


2 boat midwater trawls

purse seines & m.w. trawls


2 × 75 – 90 ft, 200 – 900 hp

85 – 180 ft, 500 – 3,000 hp


2 × 100 – 500 tons

200 – 1,000 tons

Demersal Fish (haddock, cod, whiting, saithe, hake, etc.)


1900 – 1940

1930 – 1960

1960 - 2000


hand lines & long lines

bottom seines

seine trawls, pair trawls, twin trawls


20 - 60 ft, 0 – 75 hp

50 – 70 ft, 75 – 152 hp

65 – 95 ft, 200 – 900 hp


4 – 40 boxes
(0.2 – 2.0 tons)

40 – 140 boxes
(2 – 7 tons)

100 – 1000 boxes
(5 – 50 tons)

Nephrops Prawns (Norway lobster)


1960 – 1980

1980 - 2000


prawn trawls

prawn trawls with brushes, twin trawls


40 – 60 ft, 100 – 250 hp

60 – 85 feet, 400 – 750 hp


1960 – 1980

1980 - 2000


50 – 200 prawn creels

200 – 1,000 prawn creels


30 – 50 ft, 50 – 120 hp

40 – 6- ft, 150 – 320 hp

Note: on all vessels, from 1960 onwards, electronic and deck equipment increased enormously in power and capacity.

Lighthouse construction started with the establishment of the Northern Lighthouse Board in 1786. It was undertaken entirely by the Stevenson family of engineers from whom came the writer Robert Louis Stevenson. They built lights at strategic points on the Mull of Kintyre, Scalpay, the Butt of Lewis, Cape Wrath, Barra, Skerryvore, Dubh Artach, the Flannans and Skye[71]. These were an incalculable boon to fishing boats and merchant vessels plying the west coast.

Table 4: Fishery Development Periods




Nature of Developments and Changes

Pre 1790
Subsistence era

chiefs, monarchs, landlords, RFCs

fin fish, molluscs, seaweed, seabirds

Primitive subsistence fishery, poor quality boats and gear. Several failed attempts to establish a Dutch style drift net herring fishery

1790 – 1930
Early developments

BFS, and private merchants, Lord Leverhulme

mainly herring

Model fishing villages built. Curing stations established. Some improved vessels and harbours. Railway links to the west coast.

1930 – 1965
Technological change and east coast influence


white fish, herring, lobster, prawns.

Growing influence of east coast boats. Development of Lochinver and Oban as white fish ports, and of Mallaig and Ullapool as pelagic ports. Herring, cod, and whiting still taken by Campbeltown fleet.

1965 – 1985
Investment and expansion


white fish, herring, prawns, lobster, crab, scallops.

Major growth of local fleets as the HIDB helps fishermen to acquire vessels. HIDB also supports establishment of fish farms, processing plants, and boatyards. Kinlochbervie port developed.

1985 – 2000


prawns, scallops, crabs. white fish &pelagics taken offshore by east coast and continental vessels

Effort controls by licences and quotas cause fleet reductions. Local fish stocks depleted and landings decline. Fishery employment and economic contribution decline.

RFCs Royal Fishing Companies;
BFS British Fisheries Society;
FBS Fisheries Board of Scotland;
HIB Herring Industry Board;
WFA White Fish Authority;
SFIA Sea Fish Industry Authority;
HIDB Highlands and Islands Development Board;
EU European Union;
HIE Highlands and Islands Enterprise;
SOAFD Scottish Office, Agriculture, Environment, & Fisheries Depts.
The Napier Commission, appointed to address crofter land-access problems in the 1880's, made recommendations on fishing as well as crofting. Some landowners encouraged curers to establish stations on their land, and this was done in Scalpay and Eriskay. By this time, Stornoway was a major centre of herring curing with over 50 curers and over 7 000 persons employed in the industry at that one port[72].

These early efforts did not achieve the industrial growth which their proponents had hoped for. This was due in part to the seasonal vagaries of the fishing, and to the logistic difficulties faced by any operation in the Hebrides and remote west coast. There was also the salt tax to contend with, which constrained fisheries development until its removal in 1825[73].

However, the work was not without some impact, seen today in the thriving villages of Ullapool and Tobermory, and in the development of fishing skills in the people who until then had regarded fishing as very much a part-time activity. Some communities showed remarkable enterprise during this difficult time when Clearances were still taking place. Among these were Stornoway, Castlebay, Eriskay, and Scalpay, which later on had the benefit of a local Hebridean entrepreneur by the name of Capt. Roderick Cunningham.[74]

5.3 Lord Leverhulme's interventions

In 1918, the wealthy industrialist and founder of the Lever brothers empire, Lord Leverhulme, took a sympathetic and paternal interest in the Hebrides. He bought the Island of Lewis from the Matheson family and set about transforming the economy, largely with fishery related investments. He purchased the Stornoway fish meal plant and planned to erect a cannery. Piers, harbours, processing and curing stations were established. He planned to transform the small harbour of Obbe in south Harris, into the modern port of "Leverburgh"[75].

In some ways Leverhulme was far ahead of his time. He purchased the Aberdeen Steam Fish and Trawling Company, and Bloomfields, the Yarmouth herring curing group. He also set up the MacLine Drifter and Trawler Company, as well as MacFisheries, in 1919, which continues to this day[76].

But the international businessman and philanthropic Lord was otherwise insensitive to local culture and local values. He despised crofting and planned to intensify large farm cultivation for dairy produce. He termed small scale crofter fishing "amateur fishing". He expected the crofters to give up their tenuous hold on the small coastal plots of land and trust his business enterprises for future wages and security but this the locals would not do. Some even opposed his large farm plans with demonstrations and civil disobedience, which he saw as ingratitude and "opposition of a minority of lawless men"[77].

The whole amazing intervention lasted only three years. Leverhulme gave up, and handed Lewis back to the people. He failed partly from trying to force the people into too rapid and too fundamental change. He also failed to take into account the fluctuations that normally beset any fishery. And the ultimate factor was the world recession, just starting, and the loss of markets for cured herring in Europe and Russia. His multi-national food empire suffered a crisis of its own, and he no longer had spare money[78].

Lord Leverhulme died four years later, in 1925. Not until the formation of the Highlands and Islands Development Board (HIDB) in 1965, was the region to be the focus of another comprehensive investment and development scheme.

5.4 The post-war HIDB fishery interventions

Following World War II there was a global consensus that peace and prosperity would depend to a large extent on improving food production and ensuring food security for poor countries and deprived regions. The British Government attempted to assist the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to that end. The able and far seeing Secretary of State for Scotland at the time, Tom Johnston, appointed the naturalist Fraser Darling to head a team undertaking a survey of the West Highlands which was to result in far-reaching recommendations to achieve integrated development of the area which would be environmentally and socially desirable. Sadly, by the time the Darling report was submitted, in 1955, Johnston had been replaced by a new Scottish Secretary, and the Survey findings which could have transformed the region, were ignored.

There were however, a number of private initiatives to assist Hebridean and Highland fishermen after the second world war. These schemes recognized the lack of capital as the biggest obstacle at the time for local fishermen to acquire improved boats and gear.

Then in 1965, the Highlands and Islands Development Board was formed, originally conceived as a dynamic regional development initiative on the model of the enormous Tennessee Valley Authority scheme in America, and the similar Mahaweli Development Authority in Sri Lanka, both of which targeted depressed and vulnerable rural areas. But as it eventually took shape, the HIDB became only a pale imitation of the body that had been proposed by the naturalist Fraser Darling. Its leaders were sincere and committed, but the support it got from the United Kingdom Treasury and the Scottish Office was less than adequate for the task[79].

The HIDB made notable and beneficial investments in the fishery sector, including financing of fishing boats, many of which are still operating successfully. It also supported expansion of fishery harbours and facilities at Lochinver, Kinlochbervie, and Mallaig[80]. These developments often incurred the opposition of local landowners[81]. In fact even the HIDB was remarkably powerless before the big landowners, as at the island of Raasay, where one effectively blocked any meaningful development[82].

Nevertheless, the Board assisted many fishermen to obtain boats, both new and second hand, chiefly by supplementing the grant and loan schemes offered by the White Fish Authority and the Herring Industry Board. This made it financially easier for Highlands and Islands fishermen who unlike those of the more affluent east coast, generally lacked capital. By the end of 1971, in only 6 short years, the HIDB had assisted in the purchase of 235 boats which gave full time employment to 850 fishermen. Just over half of the vessels were second hand, which was an appropriate and economical alternative for fishermen with little capital and limited experience. Of the 235 boats, 96 went to the Shetland and Orkney Islands and the western side of the Moray Firth which are not included in this study[83].

The Board also assisted in the development of boatyards and fish processing plants. It laid the foundations of the present fish farm industry by assisting in the establishment of salmon and trout farms, and smaller ventures to produce mussels and oysters. By 1972 the HIDB had helped to expand or establish 24 fish processing companies and 11 boat yards. The processing companies created nearly 600 jobs, and the boatbuilding companies about 140 jobs. Approximately half of the processing and boat building enterprises were located in the study area. One of the boatyards, established in Campbeltown, grew to become the premier steel fishing vessel shipyard in Scotland, employing 150 men at its peak production around 1980[84].

In a study of the economic impact of the HIDB investments in 1972, a number of "multipliers" were calculated to determine the "knock-on" effect of the fisheries investments in the region[85]. From these it was estimated that direct employment from the fishery sector investment in the first six years was 886 persons, and indirect employment accounted for another 419 jobs. That was for the whole HIDB area including the Shetlands and western Moray Firth.

But the HIDB also made some errors as a result of failing to understand the local culture. For example, too many of its projects tried to emulate industrial development in the Humber ports or non-fishery industries in the central belt of Scotland. A fishmeal factory at Barra folded soon after its launch, as any knowledgeable fisherman could have foreseen. And several large non-fishery investments were supported with disastrous environmental and economic results, such as the pulp mill at Fort William, and the aluminium smelter in Invergordon[86].

Indigenous Hebridean and west coast people often felt they were denied help or regarded as a poor investment, while outsiders got preferential treatment. However, the Board's support for fish farming led to significant employment and development, although some environmental concerns have been raised more recently about that industry[87]. Overall, the conclusion of the Fraser of Allander Institute was that the economic well-being of the area had barely changed during the 26 years of the HIDB's work and influence[88]. However, for the fishery sector, the Board's assistance and investments were the most beneficial since the British Fishery Society's efforts 170 years before.

5.5 HIE, Pesca, and other present initiatives

The Highlands and Islands Development Board was superseded in 1991 by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) which followed the pattern of regional development bodies under the umbrella of Scottish Enterprise, but with a greater degree of autonomy. The HIE was to be led by the business community in the Highlands through a cluster of satellite companies funded to deliver development and training services at a local level[89].

HIE continues to promote economic development work in the region, but with a much reduced interest in the fishery sector due to the enormous problems being caused by the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy, which among other things has been calling for drastic reductions in member country fishing fleets[90].

European Union aid to the fisheries sector includes the FIFG programme, Financial Instruments for Fisheries Guidance, Socio-economic Measures like Objective 1, 2, and 5b status, and the PESCA EU Community initiative. Objective status refers to the degree of qualification for regional development aid in the European Union. Most of these programmes in practice do not aid fisheries development, but rather aim to "lessen their dependence on fishing", encourage decommissioning of vessels, and retraining of fishermen for other industrial work[91]. None of them have had any effect in preventing the loss of access to the resource experienced by Hebridean fishermen.

Normally PESCA projects focus on rationalisation of marketing structures or identification of new markets, training or retraining of fishermen, and improvement of services to businesses. In Britain, authorities have discouraged the use of PESCA money for any activity that would actually promote the fishing industry. However, in the Western Isles, Highland, and Argyll regions, there are some imaginative and effective PESCA projects which have been beneficial to the local fishery sector, by assisting and promoting fish product development and market reputation[92]. They are examples of modest funding being used to good effect through commitment and strong industry support. An Argyll & Bute PESCA project has undertaken a study of the fishing fleets of Kintyre, Islay, Jura, and Gigha, and the problems they currently face[93].

The Highlands and Islands region (a larger region than the study area for this report), was granted Objective 1 status for development purposes, by the EU in 1980. Objective 1 status means structural development and adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind the others. This has now been withdrawn in 1999. The region was allocated a substantial grant from Europe as compensation for the loss of priority area for development status, but the long term implications are that it will receive less special developmental assistance from Europe.


6.1 Ports, harbours, fishermen, vessels, and processing facilities

The modern Hebridean/west coast fish industry is predominantly small scale and modest in size, yet contributes enormously to local fish food security. However, its contribution is in decline due to a number of external factors.

Administratively the study area is divided into seven fish landing districts, with 55 actual landing places or fishery harbours. The districts are Stornoway representing the outer Hebrides, and on the west coast, from north to south, Kinlochbervie, Lochinver, Ullapool, Mallaig, Oban and Campbeltown. The district of Mallaig includes Skye, and the districts of Oban and Campbeltown also cover some southern islands (see map).

Official fishery statistics give the number of local fishermen in these areas as 1 729. If part-time and crofter fishermen numbers are included, then the number of fishermen in the study area is over 2 000. The number of crofter-fishermen is now small, but many full time fishermen also own crofts. The number of boats in different size categories is given in Table 5 below[94].

Table 5: Number of Fishing Boats, by length in metres


up to 10

10 - 15

15 - 20

20 – plus
















































1 083

Fish processing facilities in the study region are few and mostly small scale. Prawn and shellfish factories are operated in the Western Isles, and in Mallaig. White fish primary processing takes place in Stornoway, Kinlochbervie, Lochinver, Mallaig, and Campbeltown. There are no processing facilities at Ullapool which is a trans-shipment port, and once the major base for the formerly huge fleet of "klondyker" factory ships from Russia and East Europe which came to purchase and process fish there from 1970 to 1990. Prawn processing involves mostly freezing prawn tails. The larger prawns taken by creel boats are shipped live to Spain and France, so they involve no local value added. The main complaint of the region's fish processors is lack of supply, a problem which if not redressed, may force several local plants to close[95].

6.2 Fish production, and its current difficulties

The fish harvested by the Hebridean and west coast local fleet is only a small part of the amount taken out of the local waters, that is from ICES sea area VI. East coast Scottish and English (Fleetwood & Milford Haven) fleets have fished in the region for over 200 years. French and Spanish vessels worked in the area before the war. Since World War II, the presence of English, Irish, French, Netherlands, German, Spanish, and other European fishing fleets has grown considerably, and has been legally undergirded by the EU common fisheries policy with its principles of equal access predicated on the possibility of building up a local track record in a matter of three years.

Study area landings were just under 60 000 tons in 1998. Figures for the previous three years, and four earlier years for comparison are given in Table 6 below:

Table 6: Fish Landings in the Study Area

Annual Totals

1998: 59,719 tonnes
1997: 78,500
1996: 94,286
1995: 113,976
1990: 123,937

1985: 264,006
1970: 200,473
1950: 100,000
1938: 30,000 [96]

District: Fish Landings in Tonnes, by Species Group - 1998[97]













































Value of the 1998 Landings in Pounds Sterling








































Dollar Equivalent $





6.3 Historical trends in three sample communities

The changes in fish food production and related employment in the west coast and Hebridean fisheries are reflected in the local communities which were once thriving fishery villages, but which are now feeling the effects of the decline in fish stocks and the shrinking of the local fleets. In 1971, the Highlands and Islands Development Board undertook a review of three coastal fishing villages, one in the south-west, one in the Hebrides, and one on the north-west coast. The communities were Campbeltown on the Mull of Kintyre, the island of Scalpay in the outer Hebrides, and the port of Lochinver in west Sutherland. Fishermen from Campbeltown fished chiefly in the Firth of Clyde; the Scalpay men worked in the Minch between the outer Hebrides, Skye, and the mainland; and from Lochinver a fleet of mainly east coast vessels fished from the Butt of Lewis to St. Kilda, and sometimes as far as Rockall.

Campbeltown: Campbeltown, located in a sheltered bay on the south-east side of the Mull of Kintyre peninsula, has a population which has declined from 8 206 in 1901, to 7 172 in 1951, 5 961 in 1971, and 5 601 in 1991. The number of fishermen were 179 in 1951, 151 in 1971, and 75 full time eqt.s in 1991.

Campbeltown is a port which was built up on herring fishing in the 19th century, and is well known in fishing circles for the invention and development of the Scottish ring net, which was used effectively by small boats for 140 years from 1838[98]. It consisted at first of a seine made from a number of drift nets, but became an effective, well-designed gear by 1910 when the local skiffs were motorised and could pursue the herring schools throughout the Firth of Clyde and beyond[99]. The ring net might still be used today had not the authorities permitted the use of large purse nets and powerful midwater trawls in coastal waters. It was an appropriate and economical type of gear for lightly powered wooden boats measuring from 43 to 63 ft in length (13 to 19 m)[100].

While herring was the mainstay of the Campbeltown fleet for a hundred years, white fish or demersal species became increasingly important after World War II. Huge stocks of whiting abounded in the Firth of Clyde, and each year from February to April, the area was inundated with schools of spawning cod. Large hake were also found in the deeper waters of the Firth. However, a seasonal influx of fleets of large trawlers from France, greatly reduced the cod stocks, and an annual invasion of east coast pursers and midwater trawlers had a similar impact on the herring stock.

Economically, apart from fisheries, Campbeltown depended on coal mining and shipbuilding in pre-war days. A new colliery was opened at Machrahanish in the immediate post war years[101]. The colliery closed in 1967, with the loss of 250 jobs. To alleviate the situation, the HIDB assisted in redevelopment of the shipbuilding industry. A new small boatyard was started in 1968, and within ten years became a leading builder of fishing vessels in Scotland, providing work for 120 to 150 persons[102]. With the decline in the Scottish fishing industry due to EU CFP (Common Fisheries Policy) restrictions, the fishing vessel market contracted and the shipyard closed in 1997. A local net factory had closed some years before. Today the only local factory of any significance is a wool knitting establishment. The fish processing industry, which once employed over 200 persons, now supports only a fraction of that number. Tourism is an important though modest summer industry, helped by the existence of a ferry terminal for boats to Ireland.

With HIDB assistance, the local fishing fleet was modernised and expanded in the 1970's. About half of the boats financed were under 40 ft in length. This was a reflection of a local by-law prohibiting certain types of fishing by vessels above that size. The reduction in stocks of herring and white fish led the Campbeltown fishermen to concentrate increasingly on prawns and other shellfish, from 1970 onwards. The fleet of 13 boats of over 10 m length, is equipped for prawn trawling while the 16 vessels under 10 m vessels are almost all creel boats. Together they land over 1,200 t of shellfish and 300 t of mixed finfish worth US$3.1 million in 1997[103].

Campbeltown is the location of the offices of the Clyde Fishermen's Association, which has worked hard to secure a voice in local fisheries management, and which has produced a number of proposals to maintain fishery sustainability and to protect fishery sector jobs.

Scalpay: The small island of Scalpay lies between the south-east tip of Lewis, and the north-east tip of Harris, at the mouth of East Loch Tarbert. It was settled in the 1840's after the people were driven off Pabbay, Uist, and Harris, by the landowners during the Clearances there. One of the Scalpay men started to cure herring in 1856, and by the 1900's there were nine curing stations on the island. The inhabitants had little choice but to pursue the fishing as the island itself was small, rocky, and infertile. "Of a hundred families in the 1880's, only 40 had crofts, and even these could live off them for only two months a year"[104].

So the people turned to lobster, line, and herring fishing, and after World War II, supported by a local businessman, Captain Cunningham, to the ring net for herring, and the seine net for white fish. "The people crammed on the rock of Scalpay ... earned for themselves a reputation for seamanship that made them famous throughout the country"[105]. The only similar small island in the Hebrides to tackle the fishing as wholeheartedly was Eriskay, farther south between Barra and South Uist.

In 1930 the island had 950 inhabitants, and a local school with 150 pupils. By 1980 the population had declined to 450, and today there are only 380 residents. Scalpay is now linked by a bridge to Lewis, and this allows the local men to travel to work on fish farms in lochs Tarbert and Seaforth. Fourteen Scalpay men presently work on salmon fish farms.

In 1972 the HIDB reckoned that 118 men in Scalpay depended directly on fishing for their livelihood. Today the number is down to 40. The fishing fleet which was comprised of 53 boats in 1948, was by 1999 reduced to 12 vessels, - two scallop dredgers, and ten smaller creel boats. Fishing now concentrates entirely on shellfish, - prawns, scallops and velvet crabs. The former prosperous fisheries for herring and white fish are but a memory, their stocks gone from the Minch waters, and their processing or curing stations now closed.

However, although both the population and the fishing industry have declined in Scalpay, the island maintains its dependence on the sector. In 1972 over 25 percent of the workforce were involved in fishing. In 1999 the proportion was 16 percent for sea fishing alone, and 20 percent with salmon farming included. There are plans to re-establish fish processing on the island (utilising salmon) and if successful, that could further increase the importance of the leading sector in the economy of the little island. In 1999 a new harbour development project was approved for Scalpay, which would strengthen the local fishery infrastructure.

The dependence on fishing and fish farming in Western Isles is shown in Table 7 below. Fishing is the major primary industry as agriculture and weaving have declined.

Table 7: Western Isles Employment Estimates by Sector by Percentage of Workforce[106]








Public Administration





Wholesale & Retail










Fishery Sector





Hotels, Food, Drink & Tobacco










Engineering, Energy, Water





Finance & Business





Weaving & Manufacturing





Other Services










Note : job numbers in full time equivalents; some categories are amalgamated. The fishery sector includes salmon farms and processing plants. The figures are limited to the Western Isles and do not include the inner Hebrides or west coast.
Lochinver: The port of Lochinver in Assynt parish, west Sutherland, was developed largely after the war, and mainly as a result of the efforts of a father and son team, Hector and George Mackay, who encouraged east coast boats to base there, and who endeavoured to provide every necessary amenity and service. Lochinver has never been blessed with a large indigenous fleet. There were 24 small local boats in Lochinver in 1948. In 1971 there were only nine local boats[107], and in 1999, there were only two. Like its neighbour port to the north, Kinlochbervie, it has been primarily a base for east coast boats, chiefly from the Moray Firth. There are east coast boats based also at Mallaig, but it has a sizeable fleet of its own.

The area around Lochinver was one of those which suffered during the Clearances, and it remains largely depopulated today. The village population is now static at around 388 persons, with that in the surrounding district 639[108]. There is no other industry comparable in significance to the fishing, except perhaps tourism which is of seasonal importance to the communities. The fishery activities are confined to landing and consigning catches, and to providing fuel, ice, and stores services to vessels. There is no local processing, and since the vessels using the port are from elsewhere, the crews spend little money in the community. The whole question of east coast influence and involvement in the west coast and Hebridean fisheries is complex, and goes back to the early 19th century.

During the drifter era, thousands of Highlandmen obtained seasonal work on east coast boats[109]. There was also a degree of technology transfer as west coast fishermen were introduced to the drift net operation then, and to seine and trawl fishing in the latter half of the 20th century. Boats from the Moray Firth ports started to be based year-round on the west coast from the 1950's. Facilities at Lochinver and Kinlochbervie would not have been built up without the presence of the east coast fleet. Nevertheless, the "retention benefits" of their operations were limited. There was also in the early days some resentment of east coast boats that were fishing within the 3 mile limit and which occasionally destroyed local static gear in the process. Today, the official number of locals employed in fisheries in Lochinver is minuscule, - amounting to only seven working on fishing boats, and 19 working ashore compared with 279 in employment in the wider district. The main concentration of local fishermen on the north-west coast is farther south in the Loch Torridon area, and farther north around Ullapool.

Fish landings at Lochinver grew steadily after the war, peaked at over 10 000 t in the 1970's. Landings by UK boats presently total around 6,000 t a year, nearly all demersal fish. Several French and Spanish vessels land at Lochinver, but their catches are consigned directly to the continent and do not pass through the local market.

The harbour has benefited from three major expansions to its pier and facilities, in the past 40 years. It has an ice plant, a fuel depot, a fish market, a ship chandlers store, fish salesmen offices, and a Fishermen's Mission building having canteen and recreational amenities. Forty-five years ago the port had only a dilapidated wooden jetty and practically no shore facilities.

Lochinver was to have had a fish processing factory in the 1980's. A Spanish company planned the investment but abandoned the location and selected an east coast site instead. The problem they faced was lack of housing for workers. Plenty of people were ready to work at the plant, but few had accommodation in its vicinity. The lack of housing at Lochinver was a result of the Clearances effects and the reluctance of the major landowner to allow people to settle in the area. It is typical of the kind of problem faced by west coast and island communities as they strive for some modest development which will sustain jobs and incomes.

Today the port is mainly a base for deep sea trawlers which operate on the edge of the shelf offshore, as well as around St. Kilda and Rockall to the west. Several such modern boats from the east coast ports of Macduff, Buckie, and Lossiemouth, land regularly. Then there are Spanish vessels from La Coruna, two or three of which land fish each day, and French trawlers which call at the port each week[110]. The east coast Scottish vessels provide work for the fish selling company, purchasing stores and fuel locally. The continental ships buy very little locally, preferring to stock up in their home ports which they visit every third or fourth trip.

Investment in Lochinver port has therefore been good for the east coast fleet, and helpful to Continental vessels fishing off the west coast, but has yielded little for the local population in terms of either jobs or income.

Summary: In all three sample communities, there has been a decline in population, a decline in the numbers of fishermen and fishing boats, and a decline in the amount of fish landed. The local fishery in Campbeltown and Scalpay is now wholly dependent on shellfish, and the only source of new fishery jobs has been in the aquaculture sector. Production from fish farms is mainly but not entirely aimed at export markets. Lochinver remains a white fish port, and a consigning port. The fish sold there comes from distant deep waters and is caught by east coast vessels. The fish from continental trawlers is simply consigned to the home country. None of it is sold or processed locally. Table 8 below summarises the trend:

Table 8: Decline in numbers of boats and fishermen, and amount of fish landed at 3 ports






Fish in tons*

















































Notes :
* Some Campbeltown fish was landed in Ayr and Girvan. Much of the Scalpay fish was landed in Lewis, and on the west coast. The Lochinver fish landings are mostly from east coast boats based there.

** Lochinver village population has been static though not the district. Boats listed are local and district boats. East coast vessels are not listed. Continental trawlers are not included in boat numbers, nor their catches in the landings totals, since they are consigned directly to Spain and France.


7.1 Patterns of operation

The small scale west coast fishing fleet operates mainly in a traditional pattern which is non-threatening to the long term health of local fish stocks. Most of the fishing fleets of the area work five or six days a week, usually repairing gear on Saturday and resting on Sunday. Some of the younger skippers, and some east coast boats, fish over the weekends at times of "slack tides" when catches tend to be better[111]. Many of the small shellfish boats are operated by part time or seasonal fishermen who may have other income earning activities. These small boats operate less in winter when weather conditions are severe. Some small boats are dual purpose or multi-purpose, and can change their fishing method to suit the season.

Few Hebridean and west coast boats fish in distant waters. One of the region's few large pelagic vessels was lost in 1998. The Scottish boats which fish around the offshore islands of St. Kilda, Rockall, and the Flannans, are east coast vessels which may land their catches in Lochinver or Kinlochbervie. Some powerful east coast boats fish in deep water offshore, towing their bottom trawls in depths of up to 600 fathoms (over 1,000 m), to catch deep water species like grenadier, blue ling, black scabbard, orange roughy and blue whiting.

Local vessels do not necessarily land their catches at their home ports. Hebridean boats may land at Stornoway, or across the Minch at Kyle of Lochalsh, Mallaig, or Lochinver, depending on the size of the catch, and the state of the markets. Prawn fishing boats mostly work on contract to merchants who guarantee to take all their produce at specified prices, or at current market rates.

7.2 Local associations and organizations

Fishermen's associations take several forms. The most common fishermen's association represents its members on industrial and political matters. The main associations in the study area are: the Western Isles Fishermen's Association; the Highlands and Islands Fishermen's Association; the Mallaig & North-West Fishermen's Association; and the Clyde Fishermen's Association. Smaller associations, which may be part of these larger ones, include those representing fishermen in Ullapool-Assynt; Skye and Lochalsh; Ardnamurchan; Loch Linnhe; Ross of Mull & Iona; and Mull. The associations may also be part of larger federations for political representation. The federations include the Federation of Highlands and Islands Fishermen, the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, and the Fishermen's Association Ltd.

Producer Organisations, (PO's) were formed out of the necessity to have fishing industry groups to manage fish quotas. The members of POs are boat owners rather than fishermen per se. The largest PO in Scotland is the Scottish Fishermen's Organisation (SFO), which includes several vessels in the study area. A local PO the West Scotland Fish Producer's Organisation, was formed in 1994. Some Orkney fishing vessels are in the Aberdeen PO. But by far the majority of Hebrides and west coast boats are in what is termed the "non-Sector" group, and the "under 10 metre" group which deal directly with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Scotland, on quota matters. Each fishing boat is allocated an annual fish quota based on its track record, and has to report catches and landings to its PO and to the local fishery office. POs are responsible for disciplining their own members for quota violations, and Fishery Protection Service officers can bring offenders to court[112].

Fishermen's co-operatives are mostly fish marketing enterprises, usually performing the functions that are normally undertaken by fish salesmen's offices in the Scottish ports. The best known co-operative in the area is the one in Stornoway, but there are also several smaller co-operatives, particularly in the lobster and crab sub-sector.

Fishermen's associations in the area have banded together to form the "West of Four Degrees Fishery Management Group" to develop proposals for effective and beneficial management of the inshore fishery within the six mile zone. The four degree East line of longitude lies to the West of the Orkney Islands, and touches the mainland coast at Strathy Point, the easternmost point of this study area. So the Group's focus effectively covers ICES area VIa, and all the fishing grounds included in this case study. The Group has proposed a number of fishery management innovations which would conserve stocks and maintain the modest local fleet. Participatory local management structures are among the proposals[113]. Effective protection of the inshore fishing grounds could conserve local fish stocks and ensure sustainable employment for local small scale fishermen.

7.3 Social attitudes and job retention

The Highland or Celtic peoples have strong ties to their communities and to their people. These are reflected in their willingness to sacrifice profits to maintain jobs. A lack of greed, sometimes misinterpreted as a lack of ambition, makes west coast and island communities more socially concerned than many others on the mainland or in the central belt. James Shaw Grant has written of the highland communities that they had "a sense of social concern often in inverse proportion to their worldly wealth"[114].

In the fishing industry, it is important that local skippers employ local crews, and insofar as possible, organise their operations to facilitate family life as well as earnings. A recent Western Isles publication states, "... the Western Isles fisherpeople have never subscribed to a corporate culture. All the boats are family owned and operated by individuals living at the sea's edges, which are peppered with coastal communities"[115].

The ownership of local fishing boats is dispersed through the communities, and crew members may often be relatives of the skipper or major shareholder. This provides a level of stability in the industry, unlike externally financed ventures, which can easily close or move elsewhere when profits decline[116]. Skippers and crews receive equal shares of half the net proceeds of each week's fishing in a time-honoured arrangement.

In addition to the truly local fleet, there are the east coast boats, which are permanently based at Oban, Mallaig, Lochinver and Kinlochbervie. These boats are almost completely owned and crewed by Moray Firth fishermen, some from the Highlands and Islands region, some from further east. The indigenous local boats are owned and crewed by fishermen who are born and bred on the west coast and in the islands. The boats are small and do not compare in size and technology with those of the east coast fleet. In rough round figures, the local fleet provides 40 percent of the current west coast landings of fish and shellfish by weight, and just over 50 percent in landed value.

The concern for maintaining local employment, mentioned above, was shown by a leading Mallaig skipper, who was lost at sea with all his crew when their vessel was run down off Denmark in early 1998. His Association Secretary told how the skipper had planned to sell his boat that year and go into retirement. But, rather than keep all the proceeds from selling his boat for himself, he had planned to finance two smaller boats to maintain employment for his crew and their sons. The action would also retain the community's access to the fish resource and maintain local fish landings, thus protecting the local economy and fish food security. "That" said the association head, "was the type of man he was". It reflects the general attitude of Hebridean and west coast fishermen to their fellows and their communities[117].

7.4 Local arrangements to resolve gear conflicts

At any one time during the average fishing week, there are over 300 trawl nets being towed through the coastal fishing grounds around the Hebrides, where there are also over half a million creels set. The surprising thing about these large numbers of static and mobile gear in the confined coastal belt, is that there are so few conflicts. Around the Island of Lewis, and particularly in the inshore grounds off its west coast, there are agreements observed by static and mobile gear fishermen which respect certain areas for each. Vessels from outside the area must also respect the agreements, or pay compensation to owners of damaged gear at rates determined by the associations[118].

It should be noted that these operational agreements are made by the fishermen themselves through their respective associations. Government is not directly involved, although local fishery officers may help to organise meetings, and may attend as advisers or as 'honest brokers'. East coast associations are also involved as their boats fish near the western inshore areas from time to time.

Gear conflicts, and the potential for future confrontations, still remain, but can be worked out between the Associations, provided they have authority over their coastal waters. The problem is complicated when vessels from other regions or countries are permitted to fish in these local waters, and when the management regulations are determined by bureaucrats or committees in Brussels or London, hundreds of miles away.

Local fishery management of inshore waters is a complex matter involving many species, several different gear types, and the traditional rights of coastal communities to harvest their local fishing grounds. No distant authority could hope to resolve such issues in an intelligent or equitable manner. The situation of the Loch Torridon prawn creel fleet, for example, is a classic case of the great need for local participatory management in that fishery[119]. Disagreements between static gear fishermen from the Loch Torridon area, and mobile gear (prawn trawl) fishermen, mainly based at Mallaig, are yet to be fully resolved. Thus development of greater local management control might facilitate long term arrangements to resolve the problem. Loch Torridon lies on the mainland coast opposite the north end of the island of Skye.

Prawn fishing for Nephrops norvegicus is a postwar development. There was no market for the prawns before the mid 1950's, and they were either thrown back into the sea or kept for personal consumption. The market has grown steadily over the past 40 years, especially in Spain, France and Italy, and now accounts for the largest share of fishery income in the study region from a single species.

Trawling for prawns was initially an activity for older and smaller seine net boats, but by the 1970's vessels were built exclusively for prawn trawling. Creel fishing of prawns was started by boats too small or too lightly powered to tow a trawl net, and as a supplement to lobster fishing, but it quickly grew into a fishery in its own right. Creels had a distinct advantage over trawls in that they caught only large prawns which fetched high prices when sold fresh and whole. Creels could also be set on rugged grounds which were too rough for ordinary trawls.

Prawn trawls take more of the smaller nephrops which are tailed and frozen for sale as "scampi". The trawls also take some by-catch of fish, including immature small fish because of the small mesh size used. Trawled prawns are sold fresh in either whole or tailed condition. Creel-caught prawns are almost all sold whole and live. While the average price of trawl prawns is lower, there is local processing work created to tail and freeze the prawns, but only limited packaging work for creel prawns which are exported fresh and whole[120].

7.5 Related legislation

Fisheries management in Scotland as part of the European Union "common pond", is subject to the principle of equal access. Until the end of the year 2001, there are certain derogations or temporary exemptions which were introduced to address local fishery situations. For the study area the derogations include a six and twelve mile limit, and the Shetland/Orkney box (see maps), within which some restrictions apply[121]. There are also local inshore fishing controls by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, which apply closed seasons or vessel and gear restrictions in certain lochs and bays. These inshore fishing controls come under the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act of 1984[122]. That Act covers all types of fishing, but an earlier important piece of legislation the Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act 1967, is the most important for shellfish fishing (except for Nephrops).

The derogations or exceptions are temporary, although many politicians and EC Commissioners have tried to pacify protests by claiming that they may be extended, but there is as yet (1999) absolutely no legal basis for such promises. The derogations are also limited in their effect and scope. Within the Shetland/Orkney box, only a limited number of vessels over 26 m in length may fish for demersal fish (apart from Norway pout and blue whiting). 128 licenses have been granted to such vessels; 62 to the United Kingdom, 52 to France, 12 to Germany, and 2 to Belgium. There is no restriction on the number of boats under 26 m which can fish in the box[123].

The six and twelve mile limit belts which extend to the west of the Hebrides also permit access by fleets from other countries. French vessels may have unlimited access for all species except shellfish off the Butt of Lewis, within the belts off Lewis, St. Kilda, the Flannan Islands, and Barra. Irish vessels may have unlimited access for demersal fish and prawns off the Mull of Galloway and Barra. German vessels are permitted in limited access for fishing herring and mackerel within the belt off St. Kilda, the Butt of Lewis, North Rona, and Sulisker[124]. So it can be seen that the derogations currently "enjoyed" are only temporary, giving only limited protection to local fisheries within six and twelve miles of land. Were they more permanently instituted, local people's fishing and food security might be better assured.

The Inshore Fishing Act, referred to above, provides for closed seasons for the use of mobile gear in Loch Hourn and Loch Torridon, and a weekend ban on the use of mobile gear in the Firth of Clyde. There is also a vessel size limitation of 70 feet for demersal and shellfish. These prohibitions are in place largely to protect the local fisheries for prawns or Nephrops norvegicus. Clyde fishermen would like the weekend ban to remain in force as it limits fishing effort[125]. Argyll & Islands fishermen, and the Clyde Fishermen's Association, are considering a number of additional local measures to control particular fisheries including that for scallops, which are seen as vital to some of their fleets, and which might better assure their future well-being[126]. However, the discovery of possible toxic pollution in some scallops has resulted in a ban on scallop fishing on the west coast from mid-1999.

7.6 The Common Fisheries Policy and its impact

The European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was established in October 1970 by the original six EEC members. Two of its regulations aim to conserve and manage fish resources, but they also enable EU States whose own fish stocks had been depleted, to enjoy access in perpetuity to the waters of three applicant States: Britain, Ireland, and Denmark. Norway did not join the EC, partly because its coastal fishing communities voted solidly against the proposal[127].

The aspects of the CFP which most seriously affected the new members and the Hebrides area under study were:

the principle of equal access for all member country fleets;
the method of quota management in the demersal fisheries;
the rationalisation and management of fishing vessels; and
the trade in vessel licenses and quotas created by the CFP.
Equal access meant that sovereign states in the EU no longer had direct control over their own fishing waters. For the Hebrides it has meant sharing their adjacent sea with all EU member state fleets[128]. The accession of Spain and Portugal to the EU in 1986 increased fishing capacity by 75 percent and tonnage by 65 percent[129].

The application of single species fish quotas in the multi-species demersal fishery has resulted in the enforced dumping at sea of hundreds of thousands of tons of fish caught in excess to particular species quotas, by individual vessels[130].

The total EU fishing fleet is recognised to be too large and too powerful for the combined fishing grounds of the member states. The situation was aggravated when Spain joined the Union as its fishing fleet was equal in size to 75 percent of the total fleet of the other members. But its own fishing grounds had been heavily exploited and could not support so many vessels. The EU is seeking to reduce the "over-capacity" in vessel numbers. It does so by treating the entire European fishing fleet as one, and by enforced decommissioning, which is applied to the Hebrides despite the fact that its fleet is small, and, compared with other EU fishing regions, relatively underdeveloped[131]. This undiscriminating approach, and the use of 3 year track records, penalises the small scale and underdeveloped fisheries, and "freezes fishing effort at its level on entry to the CFP"[132]. Over 50 boats were decommissioned from the study area from 1993 to 1996. When decommissioned, a skipper must surrender his license, and the boat must be destroyed. Some boats had over ten years of useful life left in them, and could have been of considerable benefit to poor fishermen in Africa and Asia, but despite several proposals to utilise the redundant fleet in needy areas abroad, the British Government insisted they all be destroyed.

Trade in licenses and track records which determine quotas, has raised the price of these "pieces of paper" which did not exist a few years ago, yet without which no fisherman may now operate, to the point that they cost more than the boat and the fishing gear. A recent PESCA report on Argyll & Islands fishing fleets warned that the "escalation of prices could lead to a decimation of the fleet"[133]. And a recent Scottish Office consultation paper suggested permitting the sale and transfer of small boat (under 10 m) licences to huge trawlers and seiners, which need to legalise their increased engine power[134]. Such a move could destroy the region's small scale fishery whose licences up to now could not be used to increase the power entitlement of large boats.

Recently, the fleet of huge ocean going purse seiners and midwater trawlers was found to be under-licensed for the real power they had (licenses must state vessel power in VCUs, Vessel Catching Units). So now the wealthy owners of these vessels are buying up small boat (down to 11 m in size) licences to "add" to their own licence and thereby legalise their engine power. Once a license or quota is sold from a fleet or community it is virtually gone for ever. Thus the coastal fishing industry and communities of the Hebrides and West coast are being depleted to augment the size and power of the offshore fleets. This is unjust and illogical from social, economic, and fishery management perspectives, and directly threatens the well being and future security of local fishing peoples[135].

Sale of licences and track records can result in "quota hopping" which arises when a foreign company purchases these without reflagging the vessel. On paper the quota belongs to the country or region, but in actuality it is taken by a foreign state[136]. A British Government attempt to prevent Spanish owners from engaging in the 'quota hopping' fishing has been ruled illegal under EU law.

As a result of the above, the already modest coastal fishing fleet will shrink, and may disappear altogether from some localities. The fishing industry's demise may catapult several communities into terminal decline as it becomes increasingly difficult for the government to maintain essential services in them. Thus the consequences of the EU CFP will directly contradict its stated objectives, which are: "The Community was created to ensure peace and to promote prosperity in Europe. Among the policies ... is ... economic development in regions suffering from lack of jobs and opportunities. It was decided that the fishing sector ... would be a Community responsibility in order to ensure security of food supply. Fishing and aquaculture have an important role to play in this task of economic and social cohesion. (The CFP) must deal with the biological, economic and social dimension of fishing"[137].

A recent University study commented, "... under the current provisions of the CFP, and the Highland area's status within it, ... the mechanisms by which individuals in the area could enter the industry, are steadily being dismantled. At the same time observers note the increased activities (of foreign fleets) ... and wonder how development and economic benefit can appear to accrue in foreign hands, ... with so little opportunity for local fleets"[138].

Another commentator on the CFP has written, "Many areas are wholly dependent on fishing. Destroy those communities and local industry, services and infrastructure (will) collapse, bringing down many ancillary jobs. Fishing also attracts tourism. Take the fishing away and the charm also goes, leaving little but deserted coastal villages"[139].

The failure of the European Union to address the plight of peripheral fishing communities is also highlighted in Alain Le Sann's book A Livelihood from Fishing, in which he states, "While Blue Europe has succeeded in creating a single market, its management of fish stocks has been a failure. Very few attempts have been made to reconcile national and regional differences in social conditions and working conditions." [140]

The sentiment is echoed in a recent European Parliament Report which recognises the failure of the CFP conservation policy, and the need for regional management arrangements which will protect coastal fisheries and the communities which are heavily dependent on them. The EU programme of Subsidiarity is intended to avoid unnecessarily centralised control, and to leave decision making and responsibility as close to regions and situations as possible. The EU Parliament Report recommended that Subsidiarity be applied at the level of natural marine regions, and that there be an economic link between fishery-dependent regions and fishing activities[141].


8.1 Fish resources damage due to the current management regime

Local concern over serious threats to fish food security have been voiced by the Western Isles Fishermen's Association, the Mallaig and North-West Fishermen's Association, the Highlands and Islands Fishermen's Associations, and the Clyde Fishermen's Association, who have all drawn to the attention of the Government, the European Union, and the public at large, the detrimental effect of existing management measures on the fish stocks they are supposed to conserve. East coast associations have also made similar protests.

The most serious aspect of current management is the application of single species quotas on a multi-species fishery. This applies to the demersal or bottom fish which cannot be selectively caught in a trawl or seine net with any degree of accuracy. Cod, haddock, whiting, saithe, hake, pollock, monkfish, skate, and all kinds of flatfish, are found together in unpredictable quantities which almost never reflect the specific quota mix authorised to individual vessels. The result is that fish caught excess to the quota for any species must be discarded or dumped at sea. To bring them ashore for sale is illegal and the fine for landing these "black fish" can be as high as US$ 85 000[142].

But the fish once caught and brought up from the sea bed are dead, and dumping them back into the sea does virtually nothing for conservation. Rather it does the reverse, since the practice obscures the actual mortality of mature fish, which needs to be known for making accurate stock assessments. Patrick Nicholls, MP, told the House of Commons on 15 December 1998, "What was represented ... as a policy of conservation has proved to be a conservation disaster. The policy was based on the ludicrous proposition that fish stocks can be conserved by throwing dead fish back into the sea"[143].

Estimates of the amount of fish discarded in European waters are as high as 40 percent of total vessel catches[144]. The writer has had several North Sea and west coast fishermen and skippers give personal accounts of having to dump more fish than they took on board, because of the species specific quota system. The total amount of discarded fish in the North Sea has been estimated by ICES at 600 000 tons a year[145]. That is more than ten times the amount of fish presently caught by Hebrides and West coast fishermen.

If a more flexible system were adopted, vessels could fish up to a total quota volume regardless of species mix. The cumulative result would be landings equal in amount if not in species to the TAC or total allowable catch. And since the catches would then reflect actual species distribution on the grounds, they would probably be a more accurate measure of species abundance than the scientists' current estimates, which in any case are made a year in advance, and on the basis of the previous year's data.

The amount of fish destroyed and dumped at sea in the EU "common pond" around the British Isles was estimated by fisheries scientist, Professor J. G. Shepherd, at 30 per cent of the stock harvested.[146] For the European Atlantic demersal and prawn fisheries, that would be close to a million tons. Reliable estimates of the number of saithe alone which are killed and dumped is around 45 million annually. The Chief Fishery Officer of the EU Fisheries Commission has publicly claimed that no one really knows the figure, and that "fishermen have always discarded"[147]. But as he should be aware, in addition to the ICES calculations, scientists at Aberdeen and other national marine laboratories do have good estimates of the amounts destroyed, which they admit are "substantial"[148].

Those who defend this remarkable "conservation" measure, claim that there is no alternative for administering demersal fish quotas, but in this they are completely mistaken. Other countries such as Norway for example, have a "no dumping" rule[149], and Namibia, which has similar fish stocks in the south-east Atlantic, has been remarkably successful with a scheme which prohibits discards[150].

Under Namibian regulations, all fish caught must be landed. There are on-board fish inspectors who ensure that dumping does not occur. The over-quota fish are landed, sold, and the money goes to the vessel, less a levy which calculated such that no one loses by bringing the fish ashore, yet no one can deem it worth their while to target over-quota fish.

At each year's end in Namibia, actual landings are compared with total species quotas, and invariably the discrepancies between these are small.

Other management measures which the associations believe are having a detrimental effect on stocks include the permission to engage in sand-eel fishing. Sand eels are a major food of cod and haddock. Norway pout, also fished heavily for reduction to meal for pig and poultry feed, are another basic prey species which is legally harvested under EU rules. Fishing for sand eels and sprats for meal is believed to have had a seriously detrimental effect on sea birds and on stocks of large fish like cod and haddock[151].

A recent innovation of the common fisheries policy is the legalising of the capture and sale of immature fish, including hake, plaice, and megrim well below breeding size. For the UK this represented a reversal of over fifty years of protection for immature fish. Denmark, which depends heavily on plaice, voted against the measure. Similarly, the fishery associations of the Hebrides and west coast have all deplored this step, and fear its consequences on stocks[152].

8.2 Damage to local fishing grounds and fish stocks

Possibly the greatest threat to the long term health and sustainability of the Hebridean/west coast fishery lies in the lack of local management which could initiate practices to prevent excessive pressure on coastal stocks, and which could ensure retention of local social benefits from the industry. The introduction and application of coastal fishery regulations from Edinburgh, London or Brussels, in a less than participatory way, gives local fishery associations little say and no direct involvement in the management.

Prior to the establishment of the common fisheries policy, and Britain joining the Common Market, a three mile limit gave some protection to local inshore fish stocks and local small scale fishermen. But after joining the Common Market, Britain abolished the 3 mile limit in 1985, and introduced a patchwork of minor measures to protect inshore fishing grounds. Most of these were a "derogation" or exception from full equal access enshrined in the CFP. All derogations cease after the year 2002, and despite political promises to the contrary, no legal steps have been taken to avoid the full force of CFP regulations[153].

In any case, the derogations, and the inshore fishery regulations are inadequate to deal with the situation. Powerful modern UK vessels can legally fish inside the Minches and close to the Hebrides when it suits them. The effect of such technology can be illustrated by the huge catches of cod and haddock taken in Highland sea lochs by midwater trawls designed to catch herring[154].

Most local boats continue to observe the traditional practice of not fishing on Sunday, and cease fishing from Friday night until Monday morning. This gave the grounds a rest over the weekend, and as a result Monday was invariably a good fishing day. That also suited the markets. But now fleets of non-local boats fish seven days a week, and some local boats see little point in staying ashore on Sunday if other fleets are to get all the benefit. Without this outside encroachment, if a local management regime passed a no-Sunday-fishing regulation, all local boats would happily comply since no-one would get an unfair advantage, the measure applying to all fishing craft in the coastal management zone. The current weekend ban on the use of mobile gear in the Firth of Clyde is an example of a law and local custom that is socially desirable, biologically and economically beneficial[155].

No doubt some may argue that to maximise profits, boats should be allowed to fish every day they wish. The flaw in that argument is the assumption that 7-day per week fishing would be more profitable. It is more likely that a 5-day or 6-day fishing week would give stocks time to rest and breed, and that over a period the stocks and the catches would actually rise, and with them, the economic returns as well.

Further evidence that Sunday fishing is not necessarily profitable, or that non-Sunday fishing is no economic handicap, can be obtained from one of the most profitable and successful of the purse seine fleets in Britain. This is the fleet owned and operated by the Buchan family of Peterhead. Despite investing many millions in their modern ships, this devout family group never fishes on a Sunday. And their practice has apparently been no obstacle to their financial success.

A total ban on Sunday or weekend fishing on the west coast, might be difficult to achieve owing to the operational patterns of some local boats. Static gear fishermen for instance, now prefer to leave their creels in the water rather than bring them ashore because the Spanish market which buys most of the whole prawns, likes to have them fresh on their markets on Mondays. This would imply harvesting on Sunday. But the boats doing this could be prepared to suspend fishing for 2 or 3 days just before the week-end[156]. Other fishermen who prefer not to fish over Sundays put their prawns in tubes and immerse them in seawater over the weekend so they are live and fresh for consignment on Mondays. The process naturally involves some additional labour.

However, due to lack of local management control, fishing continues in the region seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, except within the Firth of Clyde. The recent Scottish Office consultation paper on management of the under 10 m fleet suggested a ban on weekend fishing[157]. But this would only be penalising the small scale fishermen if it was not also obligatory on all other fishing vessels in the region.

The lack of local management also results in gear conflicts and lack of gear controls where these would be beneficial. Some voluntary agreements are being observed, and their success is evidence of the potential for local management. But to have effective management over the whole area and its coastal zone will require more control than is possible under the present CFP regime. Once a local system is in place and has legal recognition, gear conflicts and gear numbers, or vessel power, can be controlled to keep all fishing effort within limits which will not threaten local stocks.

This is now recognised by the European Parliament and possible measures described in its Report "Regionalisation of the CFP", which calls for "sets of regional, or fishery-based, precautionary management devices and technical measures, ... to implement regional fishery management"[158].

A study by the University of Wales, Marine and Coastal Environment Research Group, came to similar conclusions in 1997. It stated that fish conservation objectives and fishing community sustainability required effective regional management and the introduction of fishermen-based property rights[159].

8.3 Decline of local fish food processing facilities

The post-harvest sector of the local fish food industry is vital to the community in the provision of jobs, and in ensuring the maximum food value extraction from the harvest. But the processing sector is small and in decline due to diminishing supplies of available raw material. Studies of the sector reveal that the region has a smaller share (more than 50 percent less) of the added value work from fish landings, than the mainland regions.

The processing of seafish and shellfish is vital to the area, providing many hundreds of jobs, a majority of them for women. This source of employment and value added is diminishing. "Local fish processing facilities are much more limited than they were in the past", states an Association Secretary[160]. Hebrides and west coast processing firms face a number of logistic problems due to the distance from major markets, but have proved they can survive and flourish, given the one essential ingredient: continuity of supply.

Now the supplies are under threat as the local fleets shrink and as non-local quota holders increasingly take local fish elsewhere for processing. One of the biggest local processors, Scottish Seafoods of Goat Island, Stornoway, may be forced to close due to lack of raw material. Already its manager is having to import material, not just from the mainland, but from abroad. Given access to sufficient material, the company could employ 120 persons. If supplies continue to become scarce, its 60 employees could join the ranks of the unemployed. Other fish processors in the study area confirm the bleak outlook[161].

In 1996, the fishery sector in Scotland supported ten jobs for each 185 t of fish landed. For the Hebrides and West Coast, with 3 500 fishery sector jobs, the ratio was only five jobs for each 185 t of fish[162]. The normal situation in a developed fishery is two to five shore jobs for each one at sea. In the Hebrides area the ratio is less than one job ashore for each one at sea. The disparity could not be redressed to equal the well-developed East coast fishery, but it would not be unreasonable to aim for a 1.0 to 1.5 ratio in the underdeveloped west. Multipliers calculated for fisheries in the Highlands & Islands region for income and employment benefits from the sector vary from 1.5 to 1.85 [163].

A United Kingdom-wide study of the fishery sector in 1990 found that there were, on average, 1.7 jobs in the fish processing and port merchanting sub-sector for each job in the capture sub-sector[164]. This did not include employment in the wholesale, retail, and restaurant business. If the same ratio were applied to the study area, it would have over 3 000 fish handling and processing jobs in addition to its 2 000 fishermen jobs. That would not include employment in the vessel repair and servicing sector, which could add another 400 jobs to the sector potential at the present reduced level of catches and landings.

Local landings fell to 60 000 t in 1998 from over 260 000 t in 1985. Yet the bulk of the fish taken in the waters off the Hebrides are transported many hundreds of miles to be landed and processed in fish plants on the east coast, and in France and Spain.

European Union programmes to assist peripheral rural areas, such as Objective 1 Status (structural development aid to regions lagging behind) which the region has just lost, and those particularly aimed at the fishery sector such as the Hague Agreement and the PESCA programme (assistance to areas whose fish industry is declining), have had no impact on the protection or preservation of local fisheries and local fish stocks, both of which are in decline and likely to continue so unless drastic changes take place. The region has no other resource or industry with the same potential as the fisheries for sustainable employment, food production, and industry. Nor has the concept of relative stability meant anything as far as protecting the local fleet from the increasing share taken by EU fleets through "flag of convenience" arrangements, purchase of licenses and quotas, and additional fishing countries joining the EU.

8.4 Local management proposals

The local fishermen, their associations, and local councils, have put forward fishery management proposals which would end the current negative effects of the existing regime if they were put into effect in a participatory management arrangement. This would protect stocks by ending dumping at sea of over-quota fish by having more flexible multi-species quotas; reducing the capture of, and ending the sale of, immature fish; and limiting the technology and vessel power to be permitted in the coastal zone (extending 25 miles seaward from baselines). That such measures could help to rebuild stocks is evident by the recovery of resources after the war years, as well as the recovery of the west coast herring stock after the ban of 1978 - 1981. "There is evidence", writes a local Association Secretary, "that strong local management would produce a regeneration of stocks." [165]

In order to protect their inshore fishermen and fisheries, the west coast and Hebrides associations banded together in 1995 to form the "West of Four" fisheries management group, which acts as a forum and conduit for local fishery management proposals. The Group has five main objectives: [166]

To establish and document the status of fish stocks within the six mile zone.

To determine and review historical and present fishing activity in the zone.

To develop management plans and agreements on exploitation of stocks, so as to ensure sustainability, and to identify ways fishing can benefit the locality.

To provide information and support for the industry to establish its position on environmental and conservation issues and proposals.

To establish an economic data base on the inshore fishing industry and its operations, to encourage the continued existence of a viable industry.

To summarize, the local proposals which have been made to improve fishery management, to avoid over-exploitation, and to achieve and maintain a sustainable fishery by actions possible within their local authority, include the following:
- local authority and arrangements for avoiding gear conflict
- local closed seasons and areas for particular species
- non - fishing on Sundays and over weekends, or other specified days
- vessel size or power limits in coastal waters
- fishing gear restrictions in coastal waters
One of the fishermen's associations employs a marine biologist to advise it on fish stock health and fishery sustainability. All of the associations exhibit a strong community concern and seek to maintain local jobs. A recent HIE study reported "At the local level, localised management systems have been proposed but these are rejected by the government as inappropriate in spite of their success in England. Environmental conservation measures have also been proposed by the Western Isles Council"[167].

A recently established political party, Highlands and Islands Alliance (H&IA), advocates an end to management of the West Scotland fishery from distant Brussels (but also from London or even Edinburgh) which "takes little account of the special nature of our fisheries, nor of our sovereignty over our traditional fishing grounds. ... (H&IA) want to see our Fishing Industry ... controlled and managed ... by the coastal communities themselves and the fishing interests within them"[168]. They suggest establishment of trusts for the sea, on the lines of crofting trusts created to support small scale coastal croft-farmers.

The concept of Territorial User Rights in Fisheries, or TURFS, has long been advocated by the United Nations and by international bodies such as ASEAN, ICLARM, and the South Pacific Commission, to protect vulnerable coastal fishing communities from the full force of global fishing effort[169]. Even the World Bank, as well as its sister organization, the Asian Development Bank, now support the concept because the consequences of undermining the fragile basic economies of coastal communities far outweigh the temporary benefit of increased profits for a few big companies[170].

Drawing attention to the employment potential of small scale coastal fisheries, Alain Le Sann wrote, "In several parts of the world, entire communities live by fishing. Such communities often have specific cultural characteristics which must be taken into account when planning development programmes. The survival of a fishery can depend as much on the community's overall capacity to react as on the state of the fish stocks"[171].

Sir Frank Fraser Darling, whose advice in 1955 if heeded, would have put the Hebrides and west Highlands in a much more advantageous position today, said "when all notions of industry ... have been fully explored, the land and the sea will remain as the basis of any future prosperity the Highlands and Islands may enjoy"[172].


Fish food security in the Hebrides and West Highlands of Scotland is under threat from the depletion of local marine resources as a result of fishing pressure, pollution, and animal predation. The ICES sea areas adjacent to the region, VIa and VIb are estimated to yield over 900 000 t of fish a year. About 75 percent of the amount is taken by fishing activity, although 80 000 t of that catch may be thrown back as discards. The remainder is taken by seals, seabirds, and other marine mammals. Only 60 000 t, or a tenth of the catch, is landed locally by the combined fleet of east coast and local west coast boats based permanently in the region. The indigenous local fleet lands less than half of the amount, or about 25 000 t.

That 25 000 t of mainly shellfish and some finfish, taken by the local fleet is vital to the economy and viability of the local coastal communities as they have no significant alternative industries. Salmon farming faces serious disease and environmental problems. Harris tweed production has shrunk to a fraction of that industry's former output, and tourism could only be increased if the villages remain live, flourishing communities.

A modest allocation of the total Area VI stock would make an enormous difference to the local fishing communities. If discarding could be reduced and some controls placed on predators, then the local fleet could be allocated double its current quota without taking a single fish from other British or European vessels.

The local fishermen's small share of the local fish resource is being reduced as boat licenses are purchased by large companies or wealthy owners of super-trawlers, to legalise or increase their engine power or tonnage. Once a license is bought by an outside body, it is effectively lost to the community for ever under existing rules since no new licenses are being issued, and the locals lack the capital to buy them back.

There is proportionally much less added value work with fish food in the region than in the mainland fishery areas. The region's fish food processing plants are under threat due to lack of supplies. Some must now import fish from abroad to process. This is limiting and reducing the numbers employed in the local post-harvest sector of the industry.

Local Hebridean and west coast fishermen have traditionally practised small scale, environmentally gentle fishing, which limits days at sea by not fishing at weekends. The massive stock reductions of the 1970's which resulted in the disappearance of shoals of cod, haddock, herring and mackerel from the Firths and Minches, were brought about by fleets from outside the region. Local fishermen's associations have demonstrated a commitment and ability to organise inshore management regimes, to control fishing effort, and to resolve conflicts between competitive fleets and fleets with mobile and static fishing gear.

Now the local associations have proposed measures to prevent further stock destruction, to ring-fence licenses and quota entitlements, and to attain sustainability in the coastal fishery (note: ring-fencing is the establishment of arrangements that prevent vessel licenses and fish quota entitlements from being traded beyond the area of their original allocation, but only within that region, so that overall entitlement enjoyed by local fishing communities is not eroded or depleted). In the long term these measures could rebuild the inshore stocks, to the benefit of both local and long distance fishing fleets. But to implement the proposed management would require establishment of local participatory management bodies with authority to determine regulations inside of a 25 mile zone, and within the context of overall national and European fishery policy.

Food security in the region would be greatly strengthened by such effective management which could improve the sustainable fish supply by reducing the amount of discards and immature fish capture, and ensuring adequate survival for reproduction. The social benefits from the improved food security would be increased sustainable employment, an end to emigration which now threatens the very existence of some villages, and the stimulation of related marine activities and tourism, including eco-tourism.

All this could be brought about without penalising the offshore fishing fleets from the rest of the United Kingdom and Europe. While they would be required to conform to local regulations when in the area, they would benefit from the long term improvement in the marine fishery resources.

[4] John Macleod, Highlanders, a history of the Gaels, Hodder & Stoughton, 1996
[5] John Prebble, The Highland Clearances, Penguin, 1969
[6] James Miller, Saving the Fish, in Salt in the Blood, Scotland’s Fishing Communities Past and Present, Canongate Books, 1999
[7] Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, Fishery Districts, in Sea Fisheries Statistical Tables, 1980 - 1997
[8] F. Fraser Darling, West Highland Survey, An Essay in Human Ecology, Oxford University Press, 1955
[9] F. Fraser Darling, J. Morton Boyd, Natural History in the Highlands and Islands, Collins, 1964, (also as) The Highlands and Islands, Fontana, 1969
[10] Caroline Bingham, Beyond the Highland Line, Highland History and Culture, Constable, London, 1991
[11] Western Isles Entrprise, Statistics for Conference : Economy in Crisis, April 1998
[12] F. Fraser Darling, West Highland Survey, An Essay in Human Ecology, Oxford University Press, 1955
[13] Western Isles, Highland, and W.Argyll & Is. Council figures
[14] Ibid
[15] Integrated Management Ltd., The Future Management of the Fish Stocks in the Seas Surrounding the Highlands and Islands, Social and Economic Background, HIE Report, 1991
[16] Western Isles, and Highlands Council figures
[17] John MacLeod, Highlanders, A History of the Gaels, Hodder & Stoughton, 1996
J.D. Mackie, A History of Scotland, Penguin, 1964
[18] I.F. Grant, Highland Folk Ways, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961
[19] Ronald Williams, The Lords of the Isles, the Clan Donald and the early kingdom of the Scots, House of Lochar, Colonsay, 1985 & 1997
[20] F. Fraser Darling, A Brief Historical Resume, in West Highland Survey, Oxford University Press, 1955
[21] I.F. Grant, Highland Folk Ways, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961
[22] John MacLeod, Highlanders, A History of the Gaels, Hodder & Stoughton, 1996
[23] T.C. Smout, A History of the Scottish People 1560 - 1830, Fontana, 1969
J.D. Mackie, A History of Scotland, Penguin, 1964
[24] Norman Nicholl, Life in Scotland from the Stone Age to the 20th Century, Adam & Charles Black, 1979
[25] James Hunter, Scottish Highlanders, a People and their Place, Mainstream Publ., 1992
T.C. Smout, A Century of the Scottish People, Colliers, London, 1986
[26] John MacLeod, Highlanders, A History of the Gaels, Hodder & Stoughton, 1996
[27] Alexander MacKenzie, The History of the Highland Clearances, 1883, James Thin, 1991
[28] Michael Lynch, Scotland - a New History, Century / Pimlico, 1991 / 1992
[29] Martin Martin, A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland, 1716, James Thin, 1976
[30] James Boswell, the Journal of a tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, 1773, Collins, 1955
[31] Western Isles Council, The Economy and Culture of Fisheries in the Western Isles, 1997
[32] John MacLeod, Highlanders, A History of the Gaels, Hodder & Stoughton, 1996
[33] F. Fraser Darling, A Brief Historical Resume of the Highland Problem, in West Highland Survey, Oxford University Press, 1955
[34] Eric Richards, A History of the Highland Clearances, Agrarian Transformation and the Evictions 1746 - 1886, Croom Helm, 1982
[35] Ibid
[36] F. Fraser Darling, West Highland Survey, Oxford University Press, 1955
[37] Ian Levitt & Christopher Smout, The State of the Scottish Working Class in 1843, Scottish Academic Press, 1979
[38] T.C. Smout, A Century of the Scottish People, Colliers, London, 1986
[39] Ibid
[40] Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Sunset Song, 1932, in A Scots Quair, Penguin, 1986
[41] Malcolm Gray, Crofting and fishing : the West Coast, in The Fishing Industries of Scotland, 1790 – 1914, a study in regional adaptation. Aberdeen Un., Oxford University Press, 1978
[42] John McEwen, Who Owns Scotland ?, a Study in Land Ownership, EUSPB Edinburgh, 1977/78
[43] A.J. Youngson, After the Forty-Five, quoted in Richards, A History of the Highland Clearances, Croom Helm, 1982
[44] Martin Martin, A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, 1716, James Thin, 1976
[45] Western Isles Council, The Economy and Culture of Fisheries in the Western Isles, Stornoway, 1997
[46] Rosalind Mitchison, Life in Scotland, Batsford Ltd. London, 1978
[47] Western Isles Council, The Economy and Culture of Fisheries in the Western Isles, 1997
[48] Peter F. Anson, Scots Fisherfolk, Saltire Society, Banffshire Journal, 1950
[49] John Dyson, Business in Great Waters, Angus & Robertson Publ., 1977
[50] I.F. Grant, Highland Folk Ways, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961
[51] Peter F. Anson, Scots Fisherfolk, Saltire Society, Banffshire Journal, 1950
[52] Paul Thompson, Living the Fishing, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983
[53] Charles L. Cutting, Fish Saving, a History of Fish Processing from Ancient to Modern Times, Leonard Hill, London, 1955
[54] Norman MacArthur, Western Isles Enterprise, personal communication, 1999
[55] W.A. Stephenson, Seaweed in Agriculture and Horticulture, Faber & Faber, 1968
[56] Dept. Ag, & Fisheries, Scotland, Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistical Tables, 1950 - 1990
[57] F. Fraser Darling, West Highland Survey, An Essay In Human Ecology, Oxford University Press, 1955
[58] James Nicolson, The Sea, in Highlands and Islands, a Generation of Progress, Aberdeen University Press, 1990
[59] Dept. Ag. & Fisheries Scotland, Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistical Tables, 1980 - 97
60 Ibid, plus figures and tables from the Marine Laboratory Aberdeen, 1999
[61] Francis Thompson, The Western Isles, Batsford, London, 1988
[62] HIFI and FAL fishery association reports, 1998 and 1999
[63] Torcuil Crichton, The Highlands, in Anatomy of Scotland, How Scotland Works, edited by Magnus Linklater and Robin Denniston, Chambers, 1992
[64] James Hunter, Scottish Highlanders, A People and their Place, Mainstream Publ., 1992
[65] WIFI and HIFI fishermen association communications, 1998 and 1999
[66] James Nicolson, The Sea, in Highlands and Islands, a Generation of Progress, Aberdeen University Press, 1990
[67] John Macdonald, Highlands and Islands Fishermen’s Association, letters & reports, 1998 & 1999
[68] Keith Broomfield, Bleak Future for our Villages ?, in Fishing Monthly No. 17, 1996
[69] John Knox, A View of the British Empire, more especially Scotland, with some proposals for the improvement of that country, the extension of its fisheries, and the relief of the people, 1789
[70] I.F. Grant, Highland Folk Ways, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961
[71] Craig Mair, A Star for Seamen, the Stevenson Family of Engineers, Murray, 1978
Keith Allardyce, At Scotland’s Edge, a celebration of 200 years of the lighthouse, Collins, 1986
[72] Paul Thompson et al, Living the Fishing, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983
[73] Peter F. Anson, Scots Fisherfolk, Saltire Society, Bannfshire Journal, 1950
[74] John MacLeod, Highlanders, A History of the Gaels, Hodder & Stoughton, 1996
[75] T.C. Smout, A Century of the Scottish People, Collins, London, 1986
[76] Paul Thompson et al, Living the Fishing, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983
[77] James McMillan, Anatomy of Scotland, Leslie Frewin, London, 1969
[78] Ibid
[79] Alastair Hetherington, Highands and Islands, A Generation of Progress, Aberdeen University Press, 1990
[80] James Shaw Grant, Highland Villages, Robert Hale, London, 1977
[81] Sir William S. Duthie, OBE MP, personal communications, 1975
[82] John MacLeod, Highlanders, A History of the Gaels, Hodder & Stoughton, 1996
[83] W.Russell, In Great Waters, a study of the social and economic impact of investment in the fisheries of the Highlands and Islands. HIDB Inverness, 1972
[84] Leslie Howarth, former manager Campbeltown Shipyard, communication, 1999
[85] M. A. Greig, The Economic Impact of the Highlands and Islands Development Board Investment in Fisheries, HIDB Inverness, 1972
[86] Ewen A. Cameron, The Scottish Highlands, in Scotland in the 20th Century, Edinburgh University Press, 1996
[87] John MacLeod, Highlanders, A History of the Gaels, Hodder & Stoughton, 1996
[88] Torcuil Crichton, The Highlands, in Anatomy of Scotland, Chambers, 1992
[89] Ibid
[90] Michael Wigan, The Last of the Hunter Gatherers, Swan Hill Press, 1998
Mark Wise, The Common Fisheries Policy of the European Community, Methuen, 1984
[91] Ibid
[92] Western Isles Enterprise / PESCA Project, various materials, Stornoway, 1998
[93] Argyll and the Islands Enterprise PESCA Programme, In Great Waters, Fisheries Report on Kintyre, Islay, Jura, & Gigha, by Murdo MacLean, February 1999
[94] Dept. Agr. & Fisheries, Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistical Tables, 1997
[95] John Nicolson, Scottish Seafoods, Lewis, personal communication, 1999
[96] Dept. Agr. & Fisheries, Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistical Tables, 1998
[97] Ibid
[98] Peter F. Anson, Scots Fisherfolk, Saltire Society, Banffshire Journal, 1950
[99] Angus Martin, The Ring-Net Fishermen, John Donald Publ., 1981
[100] D.B. Thomson, Pair Trawling and Pair Seining, the technology of two-boat fishing, Fishing News Books, 1978
[101] Alasdair Carmichael, Kintyre, best of all Isles, David & Charles, 1974
[102] Les Howarth, former Manager, Campbeltown Shipyard, communication, 1999
[103] Murdo MacLean, In Great Waters, Fisheries Report on Kintyre, Islay, Jura & Gigha, Argyll & the Islands PESCA Report, 1999
[104] Paul Thompson, the chiliasm of despair : Lewis, in Living the Fishing, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983
[105] Ian Grimble, Scottish Islands, BBC, 1985
[106] Western Isles Enterprise, The Western Isles Economy, Prospects for Renewal, Conference paper, 19 March 1999, and other figures from earlier reports.
[107] W. Russell, In Great Waters, a study of the social and economic impact of investment in the fisheries of the Highlands and Islands, HIDB Inverness, 1972
[108] Highlands Council figures, 1999, based on 1991 census.
[109] Paul Thompson, the chiliasm of despair : Lewis, in Living the Fishing, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983
[110] I. MacLennan, Lochinver Fish Agent, communication, 1999
[111] Stirling Aquatic Resources, Study of Current and Future Producer Organisation Structures and Functions Servicing the Highlands and Islands Fishing Fleets, HIE, 1993
[112] Ibid
[113] West of Four Fisheries Management Group, News and Views, Highland Council Economic Development Service, March 1996
[114] James Shaw Grant, Highland Villages, Robert Hale, London, 1977
[115] Western Isles Council, The Economy and Culture of Fisheries in the Western Isles, 1997
[116] Integrated Management Ltd., The Future Management of fish Stocks in the Seas Surrounding the Highlands and Islands, HIE Report, 1991
[117] Hugh Allen, Mallaig & NW Fishermen’s Association, personal communication, 1999
[118] Duncan MacInnes, Western Isles Fishermen’s Association, personal communication, 1999
[119] G. Fulton, Fishery Audit and Assessment for the Loch Torridon Area, Minch Project, 1998
[120] John Macdonald, Highlands and Islands Fishermen’s Association, letter & report, 1999
[121] Integrated Management Ltd., The Future Management of the Fish Stocks in the Seas Surrounding the Highlands and Islands, HIE Report, 1991
[122] Dept. Agr. & Fisheries for Scotland, Review of Controls on Inshore Fishing, 1998
[123] Ibid
[124] Ibid
[125] Patrick L.M. Stewart, Clyde Fishermen’s Association, personal letter, 30 March 1999
[126] Argyll and the Islands Enterprise PESCA Programme, In Great Waters, Fisheries Report on Kintyre, Islay, Jura, & Gigha, by Murdo MacLean, February 1999
[127] Fishermen’s Association Ltd., Memorandum to the Council of Ministers of the European Union, November 1998
[128] John Ashworth, The Common Fisheries Policy, The June Press, London, 1997
[129] European Commission, Internet Website Information, Fisheries, 12.05.1999
[130] Michael Wigan, The Last of the Hunter Gatherers, Swan Hill Press, 1998
Alain Le Sann, Mismanagement in the North, in A Livelihood from Fishing, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1998
[131] EU Directorate General for Fisheries, the multi-annual guidance programmes, in The Common Fisheries Policy, EU information folder, 1996 - 1998
[132] Stirling Aquatic Resources, Study of Current and Future Producer Organisation Structures and Functions Serving the Highlands and Islands Fleet, 1993
[133] Argyll & Islands PESCA Programme, In Great Waters, by Murdo MacLean, 1999
[134] Dept. Agr. & Fisheries for Scotland, Management of the Under 10 metre Fleet, Consultation Paper, Scottish Office, 31 March, 1999
[135] A. McIntosh & D. Thomson, Monetarism is Killing Communities, in Fishing News, November 6, 1998
[136] Stirling Aquatic Resources, Study of Current and Future Producer Organisation Structures and Functions Serving the Highlands and Islands Fleet, HIE 1993
[137] EU Directorate General of Fisheries, Why Manage Fishing ? in The Common Fisheries Policy, EU information folder, 1996 - 1999
[138] Ibid
[139] John Ashworth, The Common Fisheries Policy, The June Press, London, 1997
[140] Alain Le Sann, Blue Europe (Common Fisheries Policy), in, A Livelihood from Fishing, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1998
[141] European Parliament, The Regionalisation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), Impact on Structural Policy and Multi-Annual Guidance Programmes (MAGPs) in Relation to Agenda 2000, FISH-101a EN, 1999
[142] Fishermen’s Association Ltd., Memorandum to the Council of Ministers of the European Union, November 1998
[143] Patrick Nicholls MP, quoted in Hansard, 15 December, 1998
[144] John Ashworth, The Common Fisheries Policy, The June Press, London, 1997
[145] House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, Fish Stock Conservation and Management, HMSO, HL Paper 25, 18 January 1996
[146] Ibid
[147] John Farnell, Reader’s Letters, Sunday Telegraph, 8 February 1998
[148] Marine Laboratory Aberdeen, personal communications with fishery scientists, 1998
[149] House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, Fish Stock Conservation and Management, HMSO, HL Paper 25, 18 January 1996
[150] Namibia Brief, and Ministry of Fisheries Annual Reports, Windhoek, 1995 - 1998
[151] Alastair Hetherington, Highands and Islands, A Generation of Progress, Aberdeen University Press, 1990
[152] Fishermen’s Association Ltd., Memorandum to the Council of Ministers of the European Union, November 1998
John MacDonald, Highlands and Islands Fishermen’s Association, letters, 1998, 1999
[153] Michael Wigan, The Last of the Hunter Gatherers, Swan Hill Press, 1998
Fishermen’s Association Ltd., Memorandum to the Council of Ministers of the European Union, November 1998
[154] John MacDonald, Highlands and Islands Fishermen’s Association, letter, 1999
[155] Patrick L.M. Stewart, Clyde Fishermen’s Association, personal letter, 30 March 1999
[156] Richard Greene, West of Four Fisheries Management Group, conversation, 1999
[157] Dept. Agr. & Fisheries for Scotland, Management of the Under 10 metre Fishing Fleet, Consultation Paper, Scottish Office, 31 March 1999
[158] European Parliament, The Regionalisation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), Impact on Structural Policy and Multi-Annual Guidance Programmes (MAGPs) in Relation to Agenda 2000, FISH-101a EN, 1999
[159] A.D. Couper & H.D. Smith, the development of fishermen-based policies, in Marine Policy, Vol. 21, No. 2, 1997
[160] Patrick L.M. Stewart, Clyde Fishermen’s Association, personal letter, 30 March 1999
[161] EES Consultants, Scottish Seafood Project Review, Scottish enterprise, 1998
[162] Ibid estimates
[163] Integrated Management Ltd., The Future Management of Fish Stocks in the Seas Surrounding the Highlands and Islands, HIE Report, 1991
[164] M. Dunn, S. Potten, D. Whitmarsh, Portsmouth Polytechnic, The Sea Fish Industry in the UK : A Workforce Audit, Seafish Industry Authority Report, 1991
[165] Patrick L.M. Stewart, Clyde Fishermen’s Association, personal letter, 30 March 1999
[166] West of Four Group, News & Views, March 1996, HCEDS Inverness
[167] Integrated Management Ltd., The Future Management of Fish Stocks in the Seas Surrounding the Highlands and Islands, HIE Report, 1991
[168] Edwin Stiven, The Problems, in Fishing, Aquaculture, and the Marine Environment, Highlands and Islands Alliance, Glenelg, 1999
[169] R. Shotton, Property Rights in Fishery Management, RBFM Advisory Group, FAO, 1998
[170] Alain Le Sann, A Livelihood from Fishing,- Globalisation and Sustainable Fisheries, Intermediate Technology Publications, London, 1998
[171] Ibid
[172] Fraser Darling, West Highland Survey, Oxford University Press, 1955

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