Some local anglers have spoken out after a number of restrictions were placed at Rothesay Pier, following an incident where a ferry crew member injured himself on a hook.
In a recent edition of The Buteman, Mr Roger Browning wrote a letter to the editor, outraged that the area permitted for fishing at the pier has been restricted while two other areas have been cordoned off, after a member of the ferry crew cut his hand on a fishing hook embedded in a mooring rope.
One area has been partitioned as a work area, whereas the other has been sectioned off ‘due to vandalism’.
Albert Pier has also recently been subject to ‘No Fishing’ signs, although the notices contain no details of who authorised the restriction. This, Cllr Macintyre explained, was done so as Harbourmaster, Mr Steven Neilson, had claimed there’d been problems caused by anglers casting off and hitting the berthing ropes at Rothesay pier.
Mr Browning told The Buteman: “He [the Habour-master] claimed someone was casting from Albert Pier and landing on the berthing ropes. I can cast a fair distance, but from Albert Pier I’d have to cast across the water, and over a 5ft fence - I’m a pretty good angler, but I’m not that good”
Speaking at the Bute Community Council meeting on Wednesday evening at Rothesay Pavilion, Mr Andrew McDonald of Bute Angling made reference to the Firth of Clyde Marine Spatial Plan, a document born out of the Scottish Sustainable Marine Environment Initiative (SSMEI), of which Calmac Ferries Ltd and Argyll and Bute Council are both partners on the steering group.
The spatial plan seeks to tackle issues such as the ‘regulation, management and protection of the marine environment of the Firth’.
Also, ‘it considers competing demands for access to marine resources and space for interests as diverse as fishing, wildlife conservation, renewable energy and transport’.
Mr McDonald went on to say: “Both of them have signed this agreement to promote fishing, and yet they’re doing everything they can to eradicate it!”
Speaking to The Buteman on Monday, Mr McDonald said: “I can understand the health and safety concerns but work needs to be done so that fishing can continue.
“When casting, you shouldn’t be able to send the line over a calmac rope - fishing stops when the ferries are in , so during the day it should be fine.”
Councillor Macintyre told The Buteman: “I walked along the pier with the Harbourmaster last week and heard his reasons for blocking off access, as well as hearing the views of the anglers.
“The area has been reduced by about 50 per cent, which curtails the number of people who can fish there.
“I have no reason to believe the anglers are deliberately casting their lines into ropes and I would encourage a meeting to take place between the harbourmaster and the anglers to try and resolve this situation.”
Cllr Isobel Strong told us: “I was surprised to get the information from the Harbourmaster as to the ‘danger’ from fishing on the Albert Pier as I find it hard to believe that people could actually manage what has been alleged.
“The notices which say ‘No Fishing’ appear to have been posted without legal authority and I want the whole situation discussed by the Harbour Authority in the near future.”
We invited Mr Neilson to comment and were referred to the council’s press office.
An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson told us: ““The council has received letters of complaint from the ferry operator that their staff have been injured by fishing tackle left embedded in mooring ropes.
“The Harbour Authority has a clear duty to take reasonable care as long as the harbour is open for public use and a duty that all who may choose to navigate in it may do so without danger to their lives or property.
“In addition the Harbour Authority has a duty to conserve and promote the safe use of the harbour and prevent loss or injury caused by the authority’s negligence.
“In respect of the notices, these are put up by the harbour staff who are appointed by the Harbour Authority to manage all aspects of the port, in particular the health and safety.
“Rothesay is a Competent Harbour Authority and the responsibility for maintaining safety in the port is governed not only by marine legislation such as the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 but also under general legislation, such as the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Dock regulations.”