By Stephen Norris
Kirkcudbright scallop boats are being displaced from traditional summer
fishing grounds by wind energy developments, according to a skipper.
Steven Girgan estimates up to 15 vessels have abandoned seas off Wick and
Montrose for waters elsewhere.
Underwater cables, turbine towers and buried rock make trailing dredging
gear too dangerous, he claims.
Huge areas now off-limits include SSE’s 84-turbine Beatrice windfarm, in
the outer Moray Firth, which went fully operational in June.
Mr Girgan, pictured left, told the News: “We are usually away for five
months in the summer, a ten-day trip, then home at weekends.
“These are traditional and important grounds. But we can’t work them
because there’s cables all over the bit.
“So we have lost our summertime fishery. We are on the west coast of Islay
just now.
“Other Kirkcudbright boats are up at Skye and some are in the Channel.”
The Susan Bird skipper added: “This fishing has been pretty poor which has
added to the problem.
“It has had a big impact on my business. And once these things are there,
they are not going away.”
Femke de Boer, inshore policy officer for the Scottish White Fish Producers
Association, confirmed marine windfarms were affecting the Kirkcudbright
fishing effort.
She said: “The boats’ plotters can’t see individual turbines – they are
just a blur on the screen.
“And if they get too close the electromagnetic field can affect the
vessels’ navigation systems.
“That means you can only get through a windfarm when its completely nice
weather.”
Boats’ long mobile gear of cables and drag nets could also snag on cables,
Ms de Boer said.
She added: “Burying the cables is the favoured option but sometimes they
dump rock on top. If you are towing gear and accidentally snag something, a
helicopter can’t just go and assist.
“It’s very worrying because once its signed off by government, there’s
nothing we can do.”
An SSE Renewables spokesperson said: “Beatrice offshore windfarm has been
developed and built in accordance and in full compliance with its consent
conditions and associated consent plans.
“During the development and construction of the offshore windfarm, Beatrice
took part in extensive stakeholder consultations, including consultation
with the relevant fishing industry bodies and continues to work closely
with Marine Scotland now the project is operational.”

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