It was fascinating to read the article by Gareth Edwards describing the prawn fishing business in Port Seton. It is encouraging to know that the Firth of Forth can still produce a sustainable economic catch that adds value to the local community in Port Seton and provides fresh langoustine for a lucrative Spanish market. Perhaps more importantly a Family tradition can continue to thrive.
Many of us support the right of local fishermen to freely catch what they can from local waters to earn a good income and enjoy the spectacle of fishing boats fishing and at harbour. However I was stimulated to reply because of my desire to see an even greater value created for the waters of the Forth by increasing the fish stocks (abundance and diversity) and the future of the local fishing industry.
It is clear that over the years many traditional fishermen have evolved through necessity to trawl nets for prawns instead of fishing more sustainably and in a way that allows abundance and diversity to develop. The only option was to diversify or give up hope by decommissioning their boats. The odd big Cod and lobster are currently a bonus for hard fishing efforts.
What could be achieved if the Forth fishermen evolved to develop a bright future for themselves by limiting trawling and moved to fishing with pots for lobster and prawns and jigging for Cod? Trawling is destructive to the sea floor habitat and does little to assist abundance and diversity. It is encouraging that many small Cod are now being caught but ask, is the most being made of the future opportunity to ensure stocks develop further? Adding future value to natural resources in the Forth has got to be a major challenge for the future.
Whilst encouraging the brave hard working fishermen who currently add value to Port Seton, by catching Forth prawns I would be more encouraged to hear of the plans for developing sustainable fishing practices. Fishermen have evolved to trawl for prawns out of necessitiy. The real challenge now is to evolve to fish in a way that builds up the industry to a level that would further benefit Port Seton and many other fishing Ports on the firth of Forth. Working to develop thriving sustainable industry that can support abundance and diversity would be a great aim. It will take a vision and a commitment to work for a better future to ensure that the right plans are put in place to limit those areas where trawling is allowed and where the less destructive pots and jigging are encouraged.
19 Swanston Gardens