Young Hebridean skippers’ loan boost
SEVEN young skippers from the Outer Hebrides have been recommended for loans totalling more than £ 300,000.
The cash has been made available through the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Fisheries Investment Scheme (FIS).
FIS provides loan assistance to fishers under 40 years old who acquire part or total ownership of a second hand fishing vessel for the first time.
The scheme aims to create and retain employment in the Outer Hebrides by encouraging business development in the fisheries sector. At a meeting of the fisheries panel last week the seven projects - three based in North Uist, one each in Benbecula and Barra, and two from Lewis were recommended to the Western Isles council for approval of loan funding requested from the FIS.
The projects have been valued at almost £1.75 million and will create 16 direct jobs, bringing ‘significant positive economic impacts’ on their communities.
Councillor Donald Crichton, chairman of the council’s sustainable development committee, said: ‘These applications will, if approved, bring much-needed sustainable employment to the Uists and Barra in particular and it is extremely heartening to witness so many young, first-time owner/ skippers across these islands bringing forward projects which support the continued development of the Outer Hebrides’ fishing fleet.’
He continued: ‘The FIS, which operates as a revolving loan scheme that has proven to be remarkably successful.
‘That success is down to the innovative partnership between the Comhairle’s Business Gateway service, WIFA and commercial lenders.
‘Through that partnership approach close to £1 million has been invested by the Comhairle, over the past five years, in the modernisation of the local fishing fleet.
‘This is a significant and important investment in local communities and in a critical sector of our local economy.’
‘I congratulate all those involved in FIS and I wish the young fishermen the best of luck as they set up their new ventures.’