The Oban Times - - Letters - AN­GUS MACPHAIL an­gus­macphail@ya­

AS I don’t wish to turn this col­umn into the Tiree Scal­lop­ing Weekly, I prom­ise next week to be back to pleas­ant sub­jects such as mu­sic, sum­mer voy­ages and spe­cial peo­ple.

James Laikie’s re­ply to my piece of a few weeks ago was dis­ap­point­ingly pre­dictable.

Along­side some mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of my points, some fairly stan­dard-type ma­nip­u­la­tion of my sup­posed opin­ions, some mis­takes in analysing what I ‘ap­pear to think’, an un­for­tu­nate tone, and reaf­firm­ing his lack of un­der­stand­ing, there were, how­ever, some valid points.

There are, of course, many valid points on all sides of the scal­lop­dredg­ing and wider marine man­age­ment is­sue and sat­is­fac­tory res­o­lu­tion and a good fu­ture path will only come by en­gage­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and com­pro­mise.

The com­pro­mise, of course, must al­ways come from all an­gles but smallscale, low-im­pact op­er­a­tors such as Coin­neach MacK­in­non, whom James would like to see cease trad­ing, should cer­tainly not be bear­ing the brunt of the anti-scal­lop- dredg­ing cam­paign­ers.

The lack of knowl­edge and/or abil­ity to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween scales of fish­ing, types of ground worked and the vastly vary­ing re­sult­ing im­pacts is a ma­jor prob­lem with many anti-fish­ing lob­by­ists – and this is dis­played per­fectly by Mr Laikie.

To lump in this small one-boat busi­ness work­ing on flat sand and gravel beds that have been har­vested sus­tain­ably in this way for more than 60 years with mass in­dus­trial fish­ing op­er­a­tions is very un­help­ful for all sides and can be dev­as­tat­ing to the lives of the in­di­vid­u­als tar­geted.

The three jobs pro­vided by this op­er­a­tion, as well as the knock- on eco­nomic ben­e­fits ashore and at sea may not be of sig­nif­i­cance on a na­tional scale, or to the Laikies, but to Tiree they are very im­por­tant.

Con­trary to what Mr Laikie states, this is­sue has ev­ery­thing to do with ‘frag­ile is­land economies’. The nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment of the world and par­tic­u­larly that of the ocean is in a wor­ry­ing state and ac­tion needs to be taken. Un­for­tu­nately, through ig­no­rance and wil­ful blind­ness, cam­paign­ers such as the Laikies are wast­ing ef­fort on easy but non-rel­e­vant tar­gets.

It is much eas­ier to write a let­ter de­mon­is­ing a young fish­er­man on Tiree than to take on big in­dus­try – fish­ing and oth­er­wise – do­ing the real dam­age to the world’s oceans.

I would sug­gest that if Mr Laikie, as he claims, has the ‘ut­most re­spect for Tiree’s fish­er­men’, then he might have en­gaged with them di­rectly be­fore writ­ing let­ters of protest to lo­cal news­pa­pers. Tiree is a small is­land and it would have been very easy to find out about the facts and in­di­vid­u­als in­volved in his cho­sen sub­ject of protest be­fore putting pen to pa­per.

If this cour­tesy had been shown orig­i­nally, then some col­umn inches would have been saved and the fish­er­men – ‘sen­si­ble’ or oth­er­wise – re­ferred to might have been more re­cep­tive to his views and he may have gained a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on the is­sues.

I hope if James and Linda Laikie are on Tiree in the fu­ture when I am home, we might meet over a meal of scal­lops to join in friendly de­bate. I will have sus­tain­ably- dredged scal­lops from Coin­neach and, out of re­spect for their views, I will of­fer them sus­tain­ably- dived ones.

We may even cer­e­mo­ni­ously swap dur­ing the evening and hope­fully no­body will be eat­ing par­rot.

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