News from Mallaig Harbour: November 2019
First of all, Congratulations to Westword on their 25th anniversary, and 300th edition. I thought it would be good to start this month looking back at what was happening in autumn 1994 around the harbour.
The new linkspan facilities at Mallaig and Armadale had been in operation for their first season, and a larger ferry, the Iona had been servicing the Mallaig-Armadale route, while a new twice-weekly route had begun from Mallaig to the Western Isles. Up to September 1994, numbers between Mallaig and Armadale had risen from 120,399 passengers in 1993 to 138,342 in 1994, cars were up from 26,958 to 32,636, commercial vehicles from 62 to 86 and coaches from 432 to 686! However, there was concern that while the port was busier, it was easier for people to by-pass Mallaig and head straight South. (As a comparison, in the year from 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019 the ferry carried 332,944 Passengers; 77,181 cars; 2,367 Coaches and 825 Commercial vehicles)
In December 1994, Mallaig Harbour Authority was welcoming the announcement of funding of £4.1 million towards the £6.8million cost of creating a new breakwater for Mallaig, and expanding fish landing and berthing facilities and the construction of a new fish market to meet European Union hygiene standards!
Mallaig and North West Fishermen’s Association was calling for a total ban on twin-rig trawling in all Scottish Waters following on from a ban on the use of 70mm fishing gear.
The West of Scotland Fish Producers Organisation had lodged its draft constitution with the Scottish Office and was awaiting approval. It had received 72 applications for membership from vessels as far away as Cape Wrath and the Solway Firth, and including the Western Isles.
The MHA Minutes for 7th October 1994 also noted that ‘a wind generator “kit” has been purchased and once suitable weather occurs it will be installed at the Lighthouse’, and that, ‘With increased yacht usage at the port the possibility of establishing yacht moorings was to be examined’.
Back to the present month, and I have been on holiday for two weeks, but have managed to fit in quite a few meetings with Harbour Users and other partners around this. I mentioned last month the final meeting of the STAG appraisal group, and we are hoping that this will be published shortly.
As a Board, we are looking at how the Harbour Authority can become more environmentally friendly and reduce our carbon footprint. One of the quickest ways we can achieve this is to reduce our electricity consumption, and we are hoping to change all the pier lights to LED lights as a first step. We are also working with Westwheels, who have been successful in attracting funding for an electric vehicle, and we are hope to get grants to install electric vehicle charging points at the harbour. If we are successful, these will also be available for public use.
The Marina closes for the Winter at the end of October, so we have to say thanks to Courtney McLean and Michael MacLelllan for all their work over the season.
We have also said goodbye this month to Colin MacDougall, Alec Kennedy and Avril Trotter, who finished in the Denholm Fishselling Office this month – we will miss working with them.
The MCA hosted a roadshow in Mallaig on the 30th October to consult fisherman on a new Code of Practice for Small Fishing Vessels that is in development. The code proposes a number of new requirements for vessels, and is effective from October 2019. You can find it by searching the internet for MSN 1871.
When the new Passenger Access Pontoon was built, lots of people commented on why the ramp was built so high. It was engineered to take account of the biggest tides, and this photo, taken on Tuesday 29th October, which shows the pontoon level with the top of the pier, demonstrates the need for the height.