Highlands & Islands

Lewis fishermen to seek compensation over grounded rig

Rig on beach on Isle of Lewis
Image caption Four crab boats usually operate in the area where the rig ran aground

Fishermen on the west side of Lewis are to seek compensation for lost earnings because of the exclusion zone around the grounded rig Transocean Winner.

A 300m (984ft) zone was put in place last Monday after the rig grounded at Dalmore beach near Carloway.

Duncan MacInnes, of Western Isles Fishermen's Association, said four boats normally worked in that area.

The rig's owner and the official overseeing the salvage operation are to meet the local community on Thursday.

Ahead of this meeting with Transocean and Hugh Shaw, about 80 people attended an event on Monday night organised by Carloway Community Association.

Braer disaster

Mr MacInnes told BBC Alba there was precedent for the fishermen's compensation claim.

He said fishing communities on Shetland were recompensed for lost earnings following the Braer tanker disaster 23 years ago.

The ship ran aground on 5 January, 1993, spilling almost 85,000 tonnes of crude oil.

Image caption The rig is unlikely to be refloated for several weeks yet
Image copyright AP
Image caption The public is being asked to stay away from the site of the grounding

It is expected to be several weeks before the drilling rig Transocean Winner can be refloated and towed from Lewis.

Mr MacInnes said: "This week there would be four vessels in the exclusion zone fishing exclusively for lobster and brown crab.

"This is the time of year when lobster are most plentiful in shallower grounds.

"Fishermen in Shetland got compensation when the Braer went down and we would insist on a similar compensation scheme for our members."

Answer questions

Local councillor Cudig MacLeod, who also attended Monday's meeting, said there was another ongoing problem - sightseers returning to the area to view and photograph the rig.

He said people were putting themselves at risk trying to see the Transocean Winner from high cliffs and slippery coastal footpaths.

Mr MacLeod said: "Once you've got a picture of an oil rig they are all the same. It is the same as every other one.

"If they want to see pictures they are on Facebook and other social media."

Thursday's meeting will be held from 20:00 at Carloway Community Centre.

Western Isles emergency planning co-ordinating group said the latest details about the salvage operation would be shared and questions answered.

Transocean has arranged the meeting. Representatives from the company are to attend, along with bosses from salvage firm Smit and Hugh Shaw, the secretary of state's representative for maritime and salvage.

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