SEA hits the road
Sunday 1st July 2018
Ellie MacLennan, SEA project co-ordinator
It’s been a busy but very rewarding couple of weeks for me as the SEA project officer, out and about meeting with fishermen along the west coast and completing the first 15 questionnaire interviews. This has also been a great opportunity to visit some for the more remote reaches of Scotland’s coast, get out on to the water, and sample some of the freshest and finest local seafood there is! The highlight however has been meeting with fishermen who have spent their lives at sea, and who as a result have gained unparalleled knowledge of their local waters and wildlife. Some of these fishermen have never had a large marine animal entanglement in their gear while others have experienced multiple, but all have been willing to share their experiences with me and there has been some great knowledge exchange including discussions about why and how animals may become entangled, best practise suggestions in setting gear to minimise the risks of this to both marine animals and fishermen, and lessons learned from past disentanglement attempts.
A trip north to Ullapool and the Coigach Gathering.
On Friday evening I delivered the first public outreach talk, introducing SEA and offering a little more information on the background of this programme of research, what we hope to achieve and how we plan to do this. Hosted in the Ullapool ferry terminal this was followed by a great debate between attendees including local fishermen, project partners, a fisheries officer and members of the Scottish large whale disentanglement team.
These past few weeks have also offered some incredible sightings opportunities, with orca spotted off Vatersay, humpback whales in the Sound of Kerrera, and a fin whale (possibly two) in the Kessock Channel to name a few! Check out our partner’s sightings page www.whaletrack.hwdt.org/sightings-map/ for more updates.
Image credits: Orca, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust; Humpback whale, Alan and Kirsty Moore; Fin whale, Charlie Phillips.
This week I will be on Skye speaking with more fishermen from all over the island. Next week I will be attending the bi-Annual Scottish Fishing Conference in St Andrews, and later this month I will be visiting Mull to continue meeting with and interviewing local fishermen there. If you are a fisherman in any of these areas and would be willing to speak to me and complete a short questionnaire it would be great to hear from you!
Entanglement in fishing gear is a worldwide issue affecting marine animals and fishers wherever the two overlap, and around the globe numerous programmes already exist to address this issue. Here in Scotland the Scottish Entanglement Alliance (SEA) was established in response to an increase in marine animal entanglement reports in our waters in recent years. Minimising the occurrence and negative impacts of these incidents to both fishermen and marine animals from an economic and welfare perspective is the goal of this research, and central to this will be engaging with local fishermen to ensure they benefit as much as possible from this work.
Over the coming months I will be travelling around the Scottish coast to meet and speak with fishermen to gather information about their own experiences and perceptions of marine animal entanglement, and offer opportunities for them to get involved in SEA research through interviews, workshops and training events. If you would be willing to meet and contribute to this work, share your own experiences of entanglement, or would like to learn more about SEA, please contact me on:
All of the project partners realise that marine animals entanglement is a sensitive issue and guarantee that any information shared will be treated as strictly confidential.