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March 2022

News from Mallaig Harbour: March 2022

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I started last month talking about the storms, and it feels like there has been nothing but storms since. Although our weather hasn’t been as extreme as other parts of the country, we’ve had our fair share of wind and rain, so much so that the boats have hardly been as sea for the last month. Let’s hope March is a better month!

Storm Dudley disrupted the harvest schedule for MOWI on 16th February, and instead of being overnight the harvest started at 2pm. Gillie kindly invited Mallaig Harbour Authority staff over for a tour round the factory, showing us how the fish are harvested. Some of the longer serving staff had seen the process before, but for me it was a first, and really interesting to see. Whilst people may have different opinions about the merits of farmed salmon, there is no question that the welfare of the fish is at the forefront of the harvesting process.

I also mentioned last month the publication of the Summer timetable for the Skye and Lochboisdale ferries, and the intention that the Small Isles timetable would be published imminently. As I’m writing this, the timetable for the period from 25th March until 6th May, utilising the Larven and Spanish John to sail to Rum and Canna on a Saturday to support the Loch Nevis, has just been published, and Saturday sailings for the peak summer period have not been finalised. CalMac have also issued a statement that the Lord of The Isles will not be available for the Mallaig – Lochboisdale route for March, as she is covering an alternative route. In the meantime we have moved ahead with the proposals to provide a bit more marshalling space. Working with CalMac, three shipping containers have been moved onto the Breakwater to enable us to create a one-way system and utilise part of the car park between the snack bar and the Loch Nevis berth to provide additional marshalling. CalMac have also been talking to us about the project to build a replacement vessel for the Lord of the Isles, which is in its early stages. As part of their community consultation, they will host a public webinar on 16th March, and we will publish more details on this on our website and Facebook page.

Parking is going to be a hot topic for the next few months, as the new Parking Enforcement Officer has started work and we are all going to have to think a bit more carefully about where we park. We’ve been getting lots of enquiries about parking permits on the Harbour. All our spaces are allocated and we have a long waiting list so unfortunately we can’t provide a solution for everyone.

We have taken the opportunity this month to tidy up some of the Harbour area, disposing of old nets and fishing gear from the Harbour and the area around the West Bay Stores. It took two 16 tonne skips and a further smaller skip to achieve this, so we are hopeful that the area remains tidy!

During the storms this month we were also made aware that some people had decided it was a good idea to jump into the water from the harbour while all the boats were tied alongside. It goes without saying that this is never a good idea – jumping into cold water in amongst ropes and moored vessels is not a sensible move – especially not in the middle of a storm. We are extremely lucky that there have been very few incidents around the Harbour and we’d like to keep it that way! We don’t want to have to close off parts of the harbour because of the actions of a minority but we also have to take our Health and Safety responsibilities seriously.  

Our Marine Licence for the works in the Outer Harbour is now being processed by Marine Scotland, and alongside these works, the Board took the opportunity at our February meeting to consider the future strategy for the Harbour Authority, and to look again at our Masterplan, which was published in 2016. Lots of things have moved on from then, and we wanted to take the opportunity to consider what we might add to the original plans. This is a work in progress, but we realise that there has been lots of activity within some of the communities served by the Harbour since 2016, and that we should be engaging with the wider community to see what other future demands there might be if more space was available on the Harbour. We hope to get the opportunity to do this over the next few months so watch this space!

Jacqueline McDonell

News from Mallaig Harbour: February 2022

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We were lucky on the Harbour to not incur any damage from the storms over the weekend of 29th and 30th January. It will be interesting to see what wind speeds were recorded here, as although it was wild, I suspect it wasn’t as wild as elsewhere. There were fears for some of the more exposed buildings, as there were lumps of sea crashing over them, but thankfully all have survived!

January has been pretty miserable weather wise, but looking forward to the summer, Sail Scotland have launched a series of aerial videos, including one of Mallaig. You can find them all on their website,, and we have shared the Mallaig one on the Harbour Authority’s website and Facebook page.

Last month we were still hopeful of a late sprat fishery, but unfortunately this didn’t materialise, and the pump has now been removed for another year. At this time of year, we always do a review of the fish landings, and the graph below shows how this has changed over the last ten years:

Although landings in 2021 have improved on 2020, which was so badly impacted by the pandemic, the overall trend is still downwards. In part this reflects the reductions in the fleet based in Mallaig, and there are implications from both the pandemic and Brexit, so it will be interesting to see what the trend is in another five years!                              

The Summer timetable for the Skye and Lochboisdale ferries has now been published, and by the time you read this the Small Isles timetable will also have been published. We are looking at some temporary improvements that can be made to the marshalling area for this season until more permanent works are possible. The Loch Bhrusda is due back for the third year of the trial of additional sailings in March, and, because Easter is late and affects the MCA certification, the Loch Fyne cannot start operating until 1st April so the Loch Bhrusda will service the route on its own until then. The hope is that the Coruisk will have returned by the start of May.   

North West Marine’s ‘Meercat’, which is a fairly regular visitor to the Harbour, undertook the last of the investigative works in the Outer Breakwater on Friday 29th January and Monday 1st February, so work is still progressing in the background. We have also been granted planning permission to replace the portacabin at the Marina, and are awaiting the building warrant. Ideally we would like to have this done before the Marina opens for the season, but that might not be achievable now!

The work to create office space from the old Denholms office is also almost complete. Our intention is to lease two of the offices, and to keep the third as co-working space, which people will be able to use to hot-desk, or to book out for a meeting if required. We have some interest in the two offices at the moment, but to be open and transparent about the process, you will find an advert for the offices elsewhere in West Word. We’d like to gauge overall interest in office space locally as there may be other opportunities as we undertake the larger developments.

Sometimes it feels like I spend a lot of time filling in surveys and questionnaires to support various pieces of work. There are two of particular relevance that are open for public consultation at the moment. One of these is the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2), which will inform transport investment in Scotland for the next 20 years (2022-2042). One of the recommendations is around Port Infrastructure, and in particular supporting ferry vessel renewal and replacement and progressive decarbonisation of the ferry services. Anyone can contribute to the review, which is open until 15th April 2022, via the website

The second review is on an updated marine litter strategy for Scotland, which has an earlier closing date of 22nd March 2022. There are five objectives for the strategy, which can be found at . These objectives include; Improving public and business attitudes and behaviours around marine and coastal litter, in co-ordination with the national litter and flytipping strategy; Supporting the removal of marine litter from the marine and coastal environment; and reducing marine and coastal based sources of litter.

Both of these surveys are important to the Harbour and to the industries using the Harbour, but also to the wider community, so please, if you have an interest in either or both of these topics, take some time to complete the consultations.

Finally for this month, we are looking at implementing some traffic calming measures on the road in front of the West Bay net stores, and we would remind anyone using this road that they should do so with caution as there may be fishermen working at gear outside the stores.

Jacqueline McDonell