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Ullapool campaigners get apology for rubbish behaviour at sea by crew member of Peterhead fishing vessel


By Hector MacKenzie

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Ullapool Sea Savers were unimpressed with the turn of events but secured a sincere apology from the skipper of the Ocean Harvester who has invited them aboard when it is safe to do so.
Ullapool Sea Savers were unimpressed with the turn of events but secured a sincere apology from the skipper of the Ocean Harvester who has invited them aboard when it is safe to do so.

THE skipper of a fishing vessel has issued an apology to Wester Ross children who took him to task for dumping rubbish in a marine environment they are working to protect.

The incident came to light when a local fishing boat witnessed two bags of rubbish being thrown overboard from the Peterhead vessel Ocean Harvester as it headed towards Ullapool.

The bags were recovered and waste inside, including a delivery note, linked it to the Ocean Harvester.

The Ullapool Sea Savers, young people raising awareness of their marine environment, highlighted the issue at the local harbour and posted images of the rubbish online to show their concerns.

They were particularly frustrated as Ullapool Harbour is part of the Fishing For Litter scheme that lets boats dispose of other fishing-related rubbish collected at sea. It has offers skips for boats to dispose of litter when landing at Ullapool free of charge.

The online posts sparked anger from other fishermen and residents of Peterhead who felt it portrayed them badly.

Hours later, the USS were contacted by Ocean Harvester skipper Philip Stephen apologising on behalf of the crew and saying it went against their garbage disposal policy. He said they are aware of the disposal facilities at Ullapool Harbour, adding: “I am personally disappointed that a crew member saw fit to break our company policy. I can assure you that the appropriate measures have been taken to ensure that this does not happen again.”

He has invited them aboard when it is safe to do so they can see the measures in place.

Noel Hawkins, Living Seas community officer, works with the Ullapool Sea Savers group whose work has been praised as an example for others to follow. He said: “The kids were genuinely upset as they not only do litter picks and beach cleans themselves, but have been actively trying to encourage others to support the local fishing industry during these difficult times.

“They actually bought almost £1000 of prawns using funds they were given to host a marine celebration but decided to use it to support local boats and give away to the village instead. They also did an online video about Fishing For Litter just last week.

“This sort of behaviour is no longer tolerated on our coasts and must be called out and stopped when it is seen and happens. Marine rubbish not only makes the coast look bad but also poses a hazard to marine life and birds, can entangle and kill even seals and whales, and ultimately is getting into the food chain and can jeopardise the fishing industry itself.

“By all working together to stop and remove rubbish from the seas, we are working towards a healthy clean seas that benefits us all whether we live here or visit, work at sea or use it recreationally.”

A bag of rubbish was retrieved from the sea after being discarded.
A bag of rubbish was retrieved from the sea after being discarded.

Highlands and Islands MSP Maree Todd, who is originally from Ullapool, said: “I was extremely disappointed to learn of the irresponsible and reckless actions undertaken by the Ocean Harvester just outside of Ullapool. This is deeply concerning considering the company, Lunar Fishing is one of the biggest fishing companies in Scotland.

“I’m glad, however, to see the company has taken responsibility and issued a full apology, offering assurance that this will not happen again.

“I would like to send a big thank you to the dedicated Ullapool Sea Savers for holding the company to account, and for their continued work in protecting our marine environment and wildlife at sea here in the Highlands.”

The Ullapool Sea Savers delighted locals earlier this month by buying prawns from a local creel boat and sharing them out. Ullapool’s residents responded with a flood of positive comments and photos online.

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