I GREATLY enjoyed the poignant Herald Magazine feature on tragic creel fisherman Alasdair Macleod, who drowned while out fishing the Inner Sound between the Scottish mainland and Raasay in November 20, 2017 (“Legacy of Love, The Herald, February 24). It must be said that he worked in an industry that is now facing severe difficulties.

Creel fishing is a "static" form of fishing that uses baited creels (pots) to target prawns, lobsters, and crabs. This is a profitable, species-selective and environmentally sustainable form of fishing with very little by-catch or damage to the seabed.

Its carbon footprint is minimal compared to other methods of fishing, as the majority of boats are small, fish relatively close to shore, and do not tow heavy gear to obtain their catch.

Fourteen hundred creel boats fish around Scotland's coasts, comprising 74 per cent of the national commercial fishing fleet and generating around £40 million per annum for the Scottish economy. Creel vessels are generally owner-operated and provide larger economic feedbacks for the remote and fragile communities from which they fish than larger vessels which take on paid hands.

Despite the economic and social importance of this sector, creel fishermen have historically been overlooked and underrepresented at a policy making level. This changed with the establishment of the Scottish Creel Fishermen's Federation (SCFF) three years ago. The SCFF gives creelers the chance to unite and make their voices heard at a national level.

Scottish creelers land live Nephrops, crabs and lobsters and static fishermen, part of SCFF dive for scallops most of which are exported live to Europe for delivery within 24 hours. Live langoustines, especially from the west of Scotland, are internationally recognised as a high quality, luxury food item. Scottish live langoustines, along with products such as malt whisky, Scottish venison and Aberdeen Angus contribute significantly to Scotland’s enviable profile as a producer of high quality food and drink. There are only a marginal number of creel static gear fishermen who fish outside the 12 nautical mile limit and they have no real quota restrictions at the moment and there is no TAC (Total Allowable Catch) for lobster or brown crab.

Frictionless movement across Europe after Brexit is an aspiration not reality. Difficult border controls, extra paperwork, much slower customs will affect quality of fresh highly priced products. It is suggested that without trade agreement there will be a 40 per cent fall in markets. Behind the World Trade Organisation tariffs and classifications there is cause for alarm in our sector. In the creel fishing sector Scotland has a lot of high premium products that the European market loves, especially live lobsters, live langoustine, scallops and live brown crabs. We are therefore extremely exposed to problems. I repeat, the notion of frictionless movement is more aspiration than reality. Boris Johnson must get to grips with reality.

Although the creel sector is small it is still relevant to Scotland. Traditional small coastal communities’ fisheries that have supported mixed and varied areas for some time. The industry is now a major contributor, as there are 1,400 member vessels operating in and around the coast and each will be impacted by this. In terms of gross domestic product, our industry may not be as vocal or relevant as bigger industries. However, given the pressure that coastal communities are under, if there is a 40 per cent loss of opportunity because of hard Brexit we will have major issues regarding jobs and opportunities, which would quickly translate to all coastal communities.

One major issue is the customs situation at the Channel ports. There has been no consultation with anybody regarding customs documentation or clearance, not is there any clear principle on how clearance will work. Currently we enjoy CMR transport documentation to access Europe, because of the nature of freedoms. CMR is a customs document that allows us access to export our goods in to the EU.

There are major problems on the horizon

Dr Sally Campbell,

Board member of SCFF,

Blairbeg House, Lamlash, Isle of Arran.