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June 2023

News from Mallaig Harbour: June 2023

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The good weather has continued throughout May, and the marina is back open for the season. Although we have had some busy spells, it hasn’t been as consistently busy as last May, so it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year compares. The Pellew has arrived back for the season, and we are expecting the Eda Frandsen, followed by the Provident and Blue Clipper later in the year.

Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in our application to DEFRA for the funding for the Outer Harbour project. This, combined with the tenders being higher than the estimate, means that we will have to revisit the project. This will delay the start date – so our hopes of getting started this year are now unrealistic. It’s a bit disappointing as lots of people have put lots of work in to get us this far, but we will try and come up with an alternative plan to take forward the project, as the demand for additional berthing and commercial space is still there. In the meantime, we are working on the detailed design for an additional overnight ferry berth, and more surveying work on Tuesday 6th June.

We welcomed back the Loch Bhrusda and the Coruisk on Sunday 29th May, and the Lord of the Isles sailed in on Monday 29th so at the start of the week we were hopeful that normal service had resumed. Unfortunately, by Wednesday, CalMac had announced that the Lord of the Isles was being withdrawn again for the whole of June. While this is an inconvenience to us in Mallaig Harbour, it’s a much bigger issue for those in South Uist, and there has been significant backlash associated with the decision. With the Lord of the Isles sailing from Mallaig we were expecting up to 12 departures to the various islands each weekday, and 15 on a Saturday which is a lot of activity around the Harbour. In other ferry news, some of you may also have noticed new information boards as you pass Lochaber High School, which have a bit more information about any potential disruption than the previous board was able to display. These boards have been a work in progress for several years so it’s great to see them finally installed and working.

We also welcomed the first visit of the ‘new’ Screen Machine, which has a slightly different configuration, and so had to park up beside the ice plant, rather than opposite the office. This trailer has been leased from the same French based company who built the existing Screen Machine, and is slightly lower than the one it replaces, and is on hire while Regional Screen Scotland work towards the development of a new Screen Machine. The slightly lower height meant that, for the first time, the Screen Machine could visit Mallaig by road, rather than coming across on the ferry!

We had our Auditors up for a week in May, and at the same time we hosted a work placement student from S3 at Mallaig High School for three days. We were very lucky to have Aisling, who helped out with a range of jobs in the office. These included designing posters for the upcoming fishing competition and Marina Day – details below.

We’re hosting a sea angling competition on Saturday 1st July from 9am until 5pm, with weigh in and trophy presentation at 6pm at the Marina Centre. This has been kindly sponsored by Mallaig Boatyard, so the entry fees of £10 per adult (under 15s free) will be in aid of Mallaig Lifeboat and Mallaig Fishermen’s Mission. You can pick up an entry form and a copy of the rules from the Marina, or download them from our Facebook page.

The week after, Saturday 8th July, will see the return of the Marina Day, which hasn’t been held since 2019. This is a fun day, which is usually held on the second Saturday of June. Given that we’ve waited 4 years, we thought an extra month wouldn’t make any difference, so this year we are breaking with tradition and hosting the day in July! There will be a barbecue, and a bucking bronco, as well as information stalls for the RNLI and Fishermen’s Mission, and activities for children. This year there will also be a small regatta departing from the Marina at 2pm. We haven’t quite finalised the posters yet, but look out for them around the village, and we’ll post more information on our Facebook page throughout the month.

Our AGM will take place on Friday 16th June 2023. We are going to host a buffet lunch in the West Highland Hotel from 1.30pm, which will be followed by a presentation on the Harbour and our future plans, and the AGM. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Finally this month, we have had a few issues with locals driving too fast around the Harbour. The speed limit on the Harbour is 10mph, with a lower limit of 5mph in some areas. These limits are in place to keep everyone safe – especially during the busy summer months when there are lots of people around as well as vehicles. Under our Byelaws, the Harbour Master has the powers to ban people from driving on the Harbour. Whilst we would hope it would never come to that, the safety of those using the Harbour always has to be our first priority.

Jacqueline McDonell

News from Mallaig Harbour: May 2023

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April has been a great month of weather, and we have been taking advantage of this to get lots of little jobs done around the Harbour. Some of the more observant among you will have noticed the new banners on the front of the prawn market, one advertising our participation in the ‘Fishing for Litter’ Scheme, and one advertising the ‘Home and Dry’ campaign, promoted by the Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG). You can access more information about this campaign, and safety information for those at sea, at

We’ve had a few visiting fishing boats again this month, which must be all the more frustrating for our local fleet, most of who have been tied up for all or part of the month for various reasons.

We’ve installed more safety fencing over by the gear stores at West Bay. We know that behind these stores is a great place for local youth to hang out unseen, but it’s not without its dangers, so we are trying to discourage this as much as possible.

Our tenders for the Outer Harbour project were returned on the 14th April, and unsurprisingly for the economic climate we are in, these were higher than the original estimates. We are looking at what can be done to ensure that the project can go ahead in some format. At the time of writing we are still waiting on a decision from DEFRA as to whether they will award funding towards the project, and if so, then how much, as this will obviously have an impact on how we proceed.

Our first priority is to demolish the old ice factory to make some space on the harbour to enable construction works to start. We have been talking to a local contractor about this, and need to apply for a demolition permit to undertake the works. The Northerly winds on Sunday 23rd April resulted in one of the corrugated panels on the seaward side of the building being blown off. This has been made safe temporarily until the demolition can take place.

The ferry disruption continues, so at the moment the Loch Bhrusda is providing more capacity on the Sound of Barra run, and only the Loch Fyne and Loch Nevis are operating from Mallaig. Some of you may have seen the ‘Pentalina’ passing Mallaig on its way back to Orkney on Wednesday 19th April. Its return will allow the ‘Alfred’ to start sea trials with a view to providing more capacity to CalMac, and more resilience if maintenance is required on vessels. We are scheduled to have the Coruisk back in Mallaig from 16th May – all being well with the programme for the annual overhaul of other vessels.  

We said goodbye to the ‘Vega De Lyra’ this month. She has had new engines installed, been renamed as ‘Lady Chanelle’, and sailed from Mallaig on 13th April; off to Malta, where she will be used as part of a Tuna fishery.

We’ve also been supporting the Small Isles this month with their partnership with Ocean Plastic Pots and Keep Britain Tidy to remove some of the nets and ropes from island beaches, which Ocean Plastic Pots will turn into flower pots. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product being sold locally. You can find the story of Ocean Plastic Pots on their website – and we have very kindly been given a couple of their pots as a ‘thank you’ for our involvement in the project. These are over at the Marina for the season.

We submitted our response to the Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMA) consultation, and also published this response on our website. I mentioned this last month, and many of you will have been following the continued controversy over the plans.  This controversy resulted in Skipinnish releasing a song titled ‘The Clearances Again’, along with Vatersay Fisherman Donald Francis MacNeil, which reached the top ten in the Itunes download chart. The next stage in the consultation is a series of workshops to be held between now and late 2024. Mairi MacAllan announced after the consultation closed that she would visit Scottish Coastal Communities to listen to concerns, so hopefully the schedule for these visits will include Mallaig.  

Finally, a wee shout out to the Mallaig FC Under-18s team who won the Skye and Lochalsh Junior League after a play-off with Portree on Sunday 23rd April. Congratulations to them – Congratulations to them – as well as MHA being a sponsor, I say that as a proud Mum!!

Jacqueline McDonell