Image: Nguyen Tran Bien and Willie Whyte in the Oor Bairns store in Fraserburgh.
A charity dedicated to improving the lives of young people in Africa is waging a battle against Scotland’s environmental regulator over the export of recycled fishing nets to Vietnam.
The Oor Bairns Charitable Trust, which is run by retired Fraserburgh skipper Willie Whyte, takes apart old pelagic fishing nets and sells on the nylon, polypropylene cord and metal components, with the money going to support a range of projects in Uganda and elsewhere.
But the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is holding up the planned purchase of rope by Vietnamese company Nam Duong Viet for use by fishermen in the south-east Asian country.
“We have the rope here all ready to go and Nam Duong Viet’s representative, Nguyen Tran Bien, has been to see it and is ready to make the purchase, but sadly the process is being held up by SEPA,” said Mr Whyte.
“They seem to be concerned that the rope won’t be used for its intended purpose – fishing nets.
“But Bien, as we know him, has already bought nets from Norway for the same thing and it’s hard to understand why there is such a long hold-up.”
The Oor Bairns Charitable Trust funds support a range of projects, including the provision of three scanners for pregnant women, courtesy of Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, to the Nakasangola community in Uganda.
This follows the earlier provision of two scanners, the funding of two sonographers from Raigmore to travel to Uganda to train medical staff in their use and the building of a school and a scan suite.
Oor Bairns has also supported vulnerable families in Kawondwe Village in Kalungi and funded the provision of piped water to Nbiswera health centre.
It is currently funding the construction of a farm in Nakasangola.
The Scottish pelagic fleet has supported the Oor Bairns initiative for many years.
Jo Zwitserlood, Head of Materials at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said: “As Scotland’s environment watchdog, SEPA firmly supports and facilities the reuse or recycling of resources from across a broad range of sectors, including our marine environment.
“We’ve worked closely with the trust in November and again last month to support their efforts, ensuring that they were able to swiftly navigate UK legislative requirements designed to safeguard Scottish and international partners. Re-using fishing nets is a great initiative and we’ll actively provide any further assistance required.”