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October 2019

Harbour News:October 2019

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September has been a quieter month in lots of ways, which has given me a chance to catch my breath! The Marina is much quieter, and the demand from fishing boats for ice has also slowed down a bit. We had trialled automatic access to the ice plant at the start of September, but there are still some issues with the delivery so this hasn’t been entirely successful. We’re still working with TRS to resolve the ongoing issues but it is causing quite a bit of frustration for us and the fishing fleet.

We’ve received the UK Sea Fisheries Statistics this month, which show the importance of the fishing industry in Scotland. In 2018, UK vessels landed 698 thousand tonnes of sea fish (including shellfish) into the UK and abroad with a value of £989 million. Landings by Scottish vessels were well over 400 thousand tonnes in each of the last four years, a result of increased mackerel landings. In 2018, the Scottish fleet’s share of total landings was 64 per cent, compared with 27 per cent for the English fleet. If anyone is interested, you can access the full report at

The picture for Mallaig is not quite so rosy, and indeed, in July’s monthly report to the Board Members, I had to report that White fish landings in July 2019 were only 3% of the landings in 2018, mainly due to far fewer visiting boats this summer. In July 2018, 105,000 units of fish were landed by visiting boats, whereas the figure for this year was 212 units! Hopefully this was an exceptionally low year, and won’t be repeated next summer!

We had a Board Meeting on 13th September, and as part of this, Donna Manson, the Chief Executive of The Highland Council came along to meet the Board and learn a bit about the Authority’s plans for development, whilst she was undertaking visits in the area anyway.

After the Board Meeting, the Directors had a farewell dinner for Robert MacMillan in the West Highland Hotel. Robert was presented with an aerial print of the Harbour, looking up to Loch Nevis and hospitality at a Rangers Football match – now that he has time to enjoy a trip away!

The road at Westbay is progressing well, although there might be a slight delay before the tar can be laid – due to other demands on the tarring company.

We had two film crews around the Harbour this month. The BBC sent a cameraman from Autumnwatch to follow Martin Carty on his annual Shearwater rescue. Unfortunately, it was calm and there was a full moon on the days of filming, and the Shearwaters are less inclined to fledge in a full moon, so despite there having been plenty of activity the previous week, the Shearwaters were a bit shier when the camera crew were here!

On 24th September, Young Films came over from Skye to film a scene for the Gaelic drama ‘Bannan’.  They were filming over lunchtime on the ‘bandstand’ in the centre of the village, and on the ‘Lord of the Isles’ on their way back to Skye.

Mallaig Harbour Authority has received a final draft of the STAG appraisal, which has been ongoing all year. STAG is short for Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance, and this one has been looking at the options for ferry infrastructure in both Mallaig and Armadale. There were initially 5 options identified for Mallaig, but the final draft recognises that three of these are not realistic, and so has recommended that only two options go forward for further investigation.  One of these two options closely aligns with the Harbour’s own Masterplan. We have a final meeting to agree the draft on the 8th October, so more information will be available next month.

As part of my previous role with HIE, I was invited to sit on the Highland and Moray Fisheries Local Action Group,, and I have been able to continue this role representing the Harbour Authority. Although the programme is coming to an end, there is still some funding left for projects led by community organisations or small businesses which provide a benefit to fisheries communities. You can find all the details on the website.

Jacqueline McDonell, CEO

Harbour News September 2019

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August has once again been a month of visits. We had representatives from Transport Scotland on the 8th August, and Richard Ballantyne, who is Chief Executive of the British Ports Association, visited with our new Board Member, Lorna Spencer on 13th August. We also had another visit from our refrigeration engineer, Bruce Thomson and representatives from Snowkey, who made the plant and Recomm, who manage the software, to look at the remaining issues with the ice plant. This visit had to be delayed as the Chinese representative from Snowkey, was caught up in the protests in Hong Kong Airport. Who would have thought that would have impacted on Mallaig Harbour! (photo Jacqueline and Richard)

The Harbour also had a week-long visit from Carlos Paredes, who was undertaking the Annual Survey of the fleet for Seafish. By the end of the week he was a familiar figure, ‘mucking in’ to get the answers he needed while fishermen were working, and figuring out that he was fairly likely to meet some of the fishermen in the Marine Bar, even if he might not be so likely to get the answers to his survey there!

On Thursday 15th August, we welcomed the Santa Maria III (formerly the Jasper) into Mallaig, with her skipper Donald Archie (DA) MacKinnon. Donald Archie has Mallaig connections, having served his apprenticeship in the boatyard here. The Santa Maria III was one of 9 ring net fishing boats owned by the MacKinnon brothers from Eriskay, and was built in 1968 by Alexander Noble & Sons of Girvan. She was originally named as SY379 Jasper and built for M&E MacDonald of Scalpay, Harris before beig sold to DA’s uncle Calum in 1971. Around 1988 she was sold again, and moved to the Clyde, renamed BA19 Fair Morn. In 1998, she ceased fishing and was saved from decommissioning by Cuddy MacKinnon and operated as a pleasure boat from Mallaig for a number of years. She has since been bought by DA and been restored at Rothesay Dock, Clydebank, and her call at Mallaig was en-route back to Eriskay. (photo to follow)

Audrey’s love of penguins has become so legendary that this month she received a gift of two penguin tea-towels and a stuffed penguin toy all the way from the Falkland Islands. Celia Bull, who owns and skippers the Selkie Explorer has a friend in the Falklands, who heard about Audrey’s love of penguins, and her copy of the Penguin News, and very kindly sent them on.

We have three new fishing boats in the Harbour this month. Damian MacDonald has bought the (soon to be renamed) ‘Lucifer’ which is a creel boat with the registration M666, and Michael Morrison has bought the ‘Primrose’ CY233, which has already featured as ‘Boat of the Week’ in the Fishing News, and the ‘Northern Star’ SY11. We wish all three boats every success.

Mallaig Harbour Authority has submitted a response to the consultation on the proposed ‘Sea of the Hebrides’ MPA, agreeing with management of the area but expressing our concerns that the proposals indicate that the designation would have a minor environmental benefit, but significant economic costs to commercial fishing, and other sectors. Many of the proposed management measures are related to the adoption of ‘best practice’ measures, and MHA is of the opinion that these could be implemented without a blanket designation of such a huge area. 

Fion Construction have been awarded the tender to upgrade the road at Westbay between the old net stores and the fishermen’s gear stores, and work started w/c 26th August. Works are expected to take between six and eight weeks and there will be some disruption around the area while work is ongoing, but access to all the stores will be maintained.

Finally, we know that the summer season is just about over when the Eda Frandsen leaves Mallaig for the last time, which was the case on 24th August. We’d like to wish owners James and Chloe all the best for their impending marriage – they’ve promised to send a photograph as Audrey and I have been entertained all summer by the parcels arriving for Chloe at the Harbour Office – more than one of which contained a dress – and we can’t wait to see the final choice! Gabriel and the other James, who have crewed the Eda Frandsen in previous years, and sailed to Greenland this summer to go climbing are making straight from there to Cornwall on the ‘Safe Arrival’ to be home in time for the celebrations!

Jacqueline McDonell, CEO