Scotland’s First Minister has pledged to investigate the “suffering” faced by the Cove Harbour fishing community as a result of a devastating fire and a dispute with the landlord.
The first minister promised action after being warned the Scottish Government risked ignoring a group whose livelihoods had been threatened by recent events.
Ms Sturgeon said the government wanted “to do everything we possibly can” to help communities faced with difficulties after the Cove Harbour situation was raised with her.
In January, thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused when a fire, thought to be deliberate, destroyed five vessels, boating equipment, a shed and fishing gear.
The community has also been involved in a long-running battle with landowner Pralhad Kolhe, a plastic surgeon who had sought to evict the fishermen’s fleet of traditional vessels from the part of the harbour he owns.
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The Cove Fisherman’s Association had a four-year legal battle with Mr Kolhe, and lost their fight to dock their small fleet of traditional vessels at a particular part of Cove Harbour last year.
Last August the remaining vessels at the site were finally moved from Mr Kolhe’s land to a small corner of the harbour. The judgement said access to the pier for walkers and vehicles should be maintained.
After January’s fire, North East MSP Liam Kerr wrote to Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing asking for support for the fishermen.
Mr Ewing replied say he was “very saddened” by the disaster but financial support would be “limited”.
Yesterday Mr Kerr raised Cove Harbour with Ms Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Kerr told the first minister the Cove Harbour fishing community was “suffering” and faced “significant” legal costs.
The Tory MSP said the fishermen had requested a meeting with Mr Ewing “but to no avail”.
And he asked Ms Sturgeon to persuade Mr Ewing to meet the community and “not risk ignoring a community facing the loss of their livelihoods”.
The First Minister said: “Of course we want to do everything we possibly can to help any community experiencing difficulties.
“I am not aware beyond what the member has just said of the content of the correspondence to Fergus Ewing.
“But I am happy to give an undertaking to look into that and if Fergus Ewing thinks there is help the Scottish Government can offer – certainly to meet with those affected.”