Recently MSP Willie Rennie has voiced the concerns of fishermen from his constituency over the incursion of wind farms into areas off the east coast of the Scottish mainland which is restricting fishing and affecting their livelihoods.
Fishing activity will also be affected by the start-up of the very large Dogger Bank wind farm.
Elsewhere there are schemes afoot to build wind farms offshore Germany, Holland, Denmark, the Moray Firth and probably Norway where restrictions to fishing will be inevitable.
The result will mean that fishermen from those areas will be obliged to venture further afield to catch in areas such as the waters around Shetland putting pressure on local boats.
Indeed, one young Shetland fisherman has already voiced concern over the Aker area north of Unst and others over the Cerulean and Orion proposals to the west and east.
Electricity from offshore wind to manufacture hydrogen will probably be necessary in the quest to decarbonise, but the crux of the matter as far as Shetland is concerned is how it is controlled with proper recognition given to its entire local economy (fish processing and exports etc).
If Shetland’s waters are to be curtailed to local vessels surely they should be compensated.
Among other ideas to explore – local boats might ask for increased access and quotas from Norwegian waters, because it is their state controlled companies Aker/Equinor/Statoil (amongst others) who will be the very large beneficiaries from the Northern Horizons project off Unst.
The British Government should take immediate action to vigorously enforce the present fishing regulations and ensure vessels from other nations (and those using British registry as a flag of convenience to get around the regulations) are excluded from fishing inside the 12-mile limit and also safeguard the fishing arrangements applicable within the UK’s economic area.
Furthermore when the 2026 EC fishing agreement ends, enforce the 200-mile line regulations.
It is reported that the Scottish Government expects to receive large sums of money to fill its coffers (none of which will go to Shetland) from the result of the recent offshore wind farms auction of licences via the Crown Estate Scotland/ScotWind.
However the glitter of gold should not take precedence over fish for food, because as Shetlanders will well know: ‘Piltocks dumaun aet, hydrogen du canna so manna’.
The SIC councillors, officials, local fishermen and Shetland’s population should ensure that their MP, MSP, politicians in both parliaments and governments take heed of the situation and abide by the rights granted to Shetlanders by the UK Parliament’s Zetland County Council Act 1974 which permits the SIC to obtain revenues directly (i.e. not via Holyrood) from the electricity, and hydrogen activity being promoted.