Young He­bridean skip­pers’ loan boost

The Oban Times - - News -

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.’

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