A Scottish Creel Support Fund has been launched to help fishermen badly affected by the exceptional winter weather – and the move has been welcomed in Fife.

Many creel fishermen have experienced hard financial times recently due to a combination of the extreme weather which can lead to a loss of fishing gear and a reduction in catch.

Around the Fife coast many fishing days have been lost for the creel boats which operate around the coast from Methil to St Andrews, catching the highest quality crabs and lobsters.

£400,000 has been made available by the Scottish Government, and the money will contribute towards easing financial pressures faced by many in the industry.

The creel sector and the inshore fishing industry generally is very important to many of Scotland’s most fragile coastal communities in helping to sustain employment and maintaining and enhancing an important part of our national heritage.

This announcement follows a fund that was established last summer for whitefish and prawn fishermen. The Scottish Government said that it wants to support the inshore fishing industry and their communities and help those experiencing genuine hardship.

It has decided to assist the sector in two ways:

* setting up a Scottish Creel Support Fund which will allow those fishermen who suffered in 2013 to apply for direct funding
* working to develop new and existing markets for creel caught produce

Now Marine Scotland will be writing to all creel fishermen to alert them to this new fund.

Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“The inshore fishing industry is very important to Scotland’s economy and the value of the catch in 2012 was £87 million.

“However, the real value is often in the wider socio-economic benefits generated in communities around our coast; helping support schools and other local services, often in the most remote and fragile parts of the country.

“This section of our fishing industry is facing exceptionally tough times and the Scottish Government wants to support them and their communities as they seek to overcome these challenges.

“My officials and I will continue to work with the industry to discuss what further steps can be taken to help and to develop new and existing markets for creel caught produce.”

Welcoming the creation of this new fund, Alistair Sinclair of the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation said:

“The creation of this fund will assist beleaguered fishermen who have suffered severe losses over the past two winters. Many of these guys are the lifeblood of small rural communities and this display of support from the Scottish Government must be recognised as acknowledgement of their importance around the Scottish coastline.”

The manager of the Pittenweem-based Fishermen’s Mutual Association, Billy Hughes, told Food from Fife that creation of the fund is an “extremely welcome move”

“We originally thought that help might be given only to the prawn boats, so it is good that creel boats are being included.

He said that local boats had experienced one of the worst years he could remember, and because the local fleet is made up of mostly ten metre and under boats, they cannot fish in very bad weather.

“In one recent period of 50 days the boats could only fish for fifteen days. It has been a horrible winter” said Mr Hughes.

The photograph shows lobsters caught off St Andrews


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