The Clearances Again – HPMA protest song.

DF MacNeil sings on The Clearances Again

A top Scottish band will tomorrow (Friday) release a protest song aimed at scuppering highly controversial plans to ban inshore fishing and all marine activities.

Members of Skipinnish have labelled the Scottish Government’s proposals as “modern day Clearances” which will devastate communities.

Trad band Skipinnish has teamed up with 64-year-old inshore fisherman Donald Francis (DF) MacNeil who makes his recording debut on the track.

As the government’s public consultation on Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) enters its final stage, the band’s co-founder and fisherman Angus MacPhail has penned “The Clearances Again” to stand against the plans. If approved, HPMAs will see swathes of Scotland’s coastal and inshore waters closed off to all fishing, aquaculture and infrastructure developments.

Angered by the proposals, Angus wrote The Clearances Again fearing they will cause economic, social and cultural devastation. The song is written from the perspective of his good friend DF MacNeil from Vatersay in the Western Isles, who has fished around Mingulay and the islands south of Barra his whole life. This area – and with it DF’s livelihood – is potentially a prime target for closing down. The song has now been recorded by Skipinnish featuring lead vocal by DF who sings the emotive and powerful lyrics.

Angus, who is originally from Tiree but now fishes out of Barra, said: “These proposals cannot be allowed to go ahead. They must be opposed and sunk. They pose the biggest peace time risk to our communities since the Highland Clearances and give zero regard to the effective local management of these waters.
“As DF sings at the end of The Clearances Again, ‘My song marks a fight for survival/A Mayday call we cry/We will stand for the rights of our children/We will not let our islands die’, this is a strong clarion call to everyone that holds the future of these communities dear to make their voices heard through the government’s consultation.”

DF MacNeil said: “Fishing has been my whole life. It supports my family and many in the community I have lived in since I was born. “I know every reef, skerry and sandbank around these shores, better than any who are pushing these devastating proposals on us. For generations we have fished responsibly, taken only what’s sustainable and made sure we do not damage the industry that puts food on my family’s table.

“To be told by officials in Edinburgh that they know better than those of us in the fishing community is frankly insulting and proves they know nothing of how we operate and how fragile the economy of these communities is.

“For the sake of my children and those who will come after us, I will do everything I can to stand against these ill-conceived and badly planned proposals. This cannot be allowed to happen.”

Skipinnish and DF MacNeil will perform The Clearances Again live for the first time at the band’s Aberdeen Music Hall concert on 12th May.

The deadline for representations on the HPMAs is 17th April. To comment go to: