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Where have our fishing boats gone?

Peterhead port.

Peterhead port.

A prominent Peterhead fisherman has raised concerns about the falling number of fishing vessels in the North East of Scotland.

The number of Peterhead registered boats has fallen from a high of 120 to the current fleet of only 30 vessels.

Peter Bruce, captain of the Budding Rose, is concerned that trawlers are being replaced by pleasure boat marinas.

He said: “It’s a symptom of the changes we’re seeing throughout the industry.

“I think it’s very important for coastal communities that we keep up the size of the fleets.

“If you sail into the harbours at Buckie, Inverness and Wick there are hardly any boats to be seen.”

Mr Bruce stressed port authorities are not to blame for the transformation of harbours but that politicians must work to defend the industry.

MP for Banff and Buchan, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, said: “There is no doubt that parts of our fleet have been under intense economic pressure in recent years, largely due to the failures of the Commons Fisheries Policy and the low priority attached to fisheries by successive Westminster governments.

“Given the importance of the catching and processing sectors to the Scottish economy, fishing will always be a priority for any Scottish government.”

Mr Bruce, who is active in promoting the fishing sector across the North East and took part in the recent Fish Friday fundraising initiative with the Fishermen’s Mission, continued: “The question that has to be asked is, why is this happening?

“We’re seeing a really good recovery in stocks so I think we need our government to fight for the sector.

“Our politicians need to start saying no to Europe - need to start negotiating smarter.”

He added: “We’re lucky to have an oil industry in the North East, but there’ll be fish in the sea long after the oil’s gone.”

Although the number of vessels registered in Peterhead harbour has steadily declined, a massive overhaul of the port in the coming years is hoped to stem the tide.

Peterhead Port Authority chief John Wallace said: “We are showing our support with the new £40m development.

“It will provide a bespoke fishing hub to support the industry. adding to the existing infrastructure.

“I don’t think we can make a stronger statement.”

Mr Wallace and his team are now working to secure funding for the project.

Once funding is secured, work on the redevelopment of the harbour area is due to be undertaken by the winter of 2016.

 

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