Film screening of The Limit, a film by the OurSeas coalition

An online evening with the Ourseas coalition, COAST and Eco Savvy

On 17th November, COAST and Eco Savvy joined up with the OurSeas coalition for the screening of the The Limit. The event was part of a virtual roadshow around Scotland, to highlight the issues concerning inshore fisheries, particularly during this time when the UK is negotiating its fishing policies after Brexit. A panel discussion was held after with members of COAST, Eco Savvy and the Arran community.

The Limit is a film about restoring the threatened connections between people and the life in our sea. It explores the impacts of drastic declines in Scotland’s fish populations and the hidden damage to our seabed. How can we bring about an urgent and fair transition towards more sustainable fishing? Weaving historical archive with contemporary events and testimonies, The Limit tells a story of environmental decline and community hope. How can we bring our seas back from the brink?

The film focuses on the story of a creel fisherman, Bally, and takes us on a journey looking into the decline of traditional fishing industries around Scotland. In 1984 the Inshore Fisheries Act removed the 3 mile limit of trawling and dredging and since then many fish stocks including cod and herring have collapsed. This has had a huge effect on the food chains, and the fishing community in places such as the Kyle of Lochalsh. As the stocks disappeared so has the coastal fishing industry. Bally explained that the fisheries need to be managed by local communities and a limit needs to be reinstated to try and recover the stocks that have been lost lost.

Not only has the inshore limit been removed but the whole fisheries management has been, in Bally’s words, a “colossal cock up” so that now there is a situation where all fishermen, from creelers, to commercial trawlers and dredgers are all fighting over the same space, and there is what is known as ‘gear conflict’. Competition is so strong for a fishing patch that it also means the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are not regarded by fishermen, (nor properly policed), and trawlers still come into these areas (see also Voice article – link to Sally’s piece). Bally says the MPAs are also too small, the whole of the Scottish coastline needs to be protected.

The OurSeas campaign

We are an alliance of Scottish organisations, businesses, communities and individuals that support a move to sustainable use of our coastal seas. We are calling for the re-establishment of a modern, coastal limit on bottom-towed fisheries to restrict damaging fishing from the coastal zones of our seas that are most vulnerable.

If implemented fairly, this transition would allow our inshore marine environment to recover. It would provide a nursery for fish populations, sustainable jobs for sustainable fishermen, vibrant seas for coastal tourism and a resilient future for Scotland.

We are calling for:

  • The return of a modern seaward limit on bottom-towed fishing, via a just transition.
  • Effective vessel tracking systems for all boats
  • Preferential allocation of fishing opportunity to vessels with low environmental impact, bringing increased sustainable economic value and employment to communities

What we can do –

Join the coalition and sign the petition. See the link here

If you are on Arran, learn about the work of COAST and see if you can get involved. If you see a boat fishing in the MPA let Marine Scotland Compliance know.

Your Voice matters – Write to your MSP. It is really important as voters to let our MSPs know what we think, especially with the elections coming up in May. Ask them difficult questions and whether they support the OurSeas coalition. We want them working on our behalf.

The marine environment and the seaweed and kelp forests are ecosystems which affect us all. The seabed remains one of the largest carbon stores, and need to be protected from dredging. The main message to come out of this engaging evening was that as a coastal community on Arran, we have a strong and effective voice, and we need to use it to keep a more localised fisheries policy on the agenda.