As part of a drive to encourage new young entrants into the industry, grants to three new skippers were confirmed last week by Marine Scotland, reports Andy Read.
The Scottish government’s new entrants scheme enables fishers under the age of 40 to apply for up to 75% of the cost of buying a second-hand vessel of up to 16m, or up to 50% of the cost
of a vessel from 16-24m. All awards are capped at a maximum of £100,000 to ensure affordability.
One of the young fishermen is Daniel Watson, 26, of Integrity Shellfish (pictured above by his new vessel Integrity, with his other ‘new arrival’, newborn Rosie, and her mother Katie), whose vessel was featured in Fishing News two weeks ago (Fishing News, 18 November, ‘Scots Nephrops report nets government support’). He has been fishing for three and a half years, after two years working a wrasse vessel for a salmon farm. He used the grant to purchase the Integrity, which will target brown crab, velvets, prawns and lobster from Ullapool.
Daniel told Fishing News: “I am grateful for the support from the Scottish government, which has helped me take the next step with my business and expand our fishing operation in Scotland.
“Without this funding, I quite simply would not have a boat of this size to support our aspirations, and that is so safe to work on.
“The week the grant was approved was particularly special, as it was also the week my daughter Rosie was born. I’d like to thank my amazing partner Katie for her support, and while our newborn is not quite ready to join the crew yet, who knows what the future holds!”
The application process, Daniel told FN, was supported by Marine Scotland staff. “Whenever I had an issue, there was always someone available on the end of the phone to give me guidance. I look forward to sailing the vessel home on Monday (29 November), as soon as we’ve completed the MCA survey, and can’t wait to get fishing.”
The other awards were made to Shetland fishermen John Anderson, 26, and Steven Mair, 32 (both pictured below at Lerwick alongside their newly purchased vessel Sharyn Louise), who each purchased a third share in an 18m trawler, with the other third purchased by LHD Fishing.
John said: “Without the grant from Marine Fund Scotland, I simply would not have been able to raise enough money to purchase my share in Sharyn Louise LK 250.”
“The grant has allowed me to secure my job and achieve my ambition of owning and skippering a whitefish boat. Now that I have managed to overcome the financial difficulties of getting into the industry, I look forward to making a career out of fishing, which will allow me to bring up my family here in Shetland.”
Andrew Crossan of LHD told Fishing News: “This is fantastic news, both for Shetland, where the Sharyn Louise will be fishing and landing, but also of course for John and Steven themselves.
“For LHD, we would very much like to thank Marine Scotland staff for the ongoing advice and support they provided, during what can be quite a testing application process. Quite naturally, given that this is taxpayers’ money, we had to provide details of both cashflow and business plans as part of the application.
“I would urge other new entrants wishing to apply under this scheme not to be intimidated by what seems to be a difficult process. Vessel agents such as LHD are on hand to help you through your application, and Marine Scotland staff themselves are always available to answer any questions or queries.”
Rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “It’s fantastic to see this funding helping to attract young talent to a sector which has struggled in the past due to perceived lack of career progression opportunities.
“These new entrants are crucial to boosting the resilience of the industry, which supports jobs in some of our most rural communities.
“By supporting up and coming fishers to become a skipper or to own their boat, I hope it will help inspire young people to enter and progress through the fishing industry. This is an important part of our Fisheries Management Strategy, which includes actions to promote fishing as an attractive and safe career of choice.”
A further 19 applications are currently under consideration by Marine Scotland, with grants being made available on a first come, first served basis.
Further information on eligibility for the young entrants scheme can be found on page 10 of the Marine Fund Scotland general guidance on the Scottish government website.
The list of successful awards granted through Marine Fund Scotland so far this year is also available to view.
This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.