It’s the beginning of November, and after some remarkably good weather compared to the rest of the country, it feels like Winter has arrived! We are hosting the Screen Machine once again, and some of you may have already seen their plea for support for their request for financial assistance from the Scottish Government to keep the Screen Machine in operation. We have written a letter from Mallaig Harbour Authority, as the host for the Screen Machine in Mallaig, in support of this request. If you enjoy their visits to Mallaig, there is still time for you to do the same.
The Harbour always feels much quieter when the winter CalMac timetable starts, and this year is no exception. The Lord of The Isles was sailing to Mallaig this week, but is then off for her annual refit, and won’t be back until the end of November. We’ve received the Design Statement for the proposed overnight berth from our Engineers, Wallace Stone, so we have a bit of work to do over the winter to make sure it suits all the different needs, and then to persuade Transport Scotland of the benefit of funding it!
It’s the time of year when Marine Scotland publish their annual landings data for the year. The headline figures for the Mallaig District this year were that 1,385 tonnes were landed, with a value of £5,935,000. This was an increase in value of 22.8%, the second highest of any Scottish District, and a very slight decrease in tonnage of 0.4%.
It’s worth noting that these figures from Marine Scotland are for the Mallaig District, and not just the port. The district covers the whole of Ardnamurchan, the Small Isles and the North Shore of Loch Linnhe to Fort William, so not all the fish included in these figures was landed into Mallaig. However, we are always asked to comment on these headline numbers, so we do a bit of our own analysis. Our records of reported landings from the vessels through Mallaig, which are by financial year rather than calendar year, actually showed an increase in the quantity of landings between the y/e March 2022 and 2023 of 40%, from 522,215kg to 733,829kg. From this, it’s evident that only around half the landings into the District are actually made through Mallaig.
From our figures, average shellfish prices increased by 36.25% between 2021/22 and 2022/23, while average white fish prices decreased by 33%. The total value of landings through Mallaig increased from £2.4million in 2021/22 to £4.8million in 2022/23, an increase of 100%.
Once again, Peterhead topped the landings tables, with 154,883 tonnes landed, worth £191,060,000. I was through in Peterhead for the British Ports Association’s Fishing Ports Group meeting on the 5th and 6th October, and we were given a tour of the Peterhead fish market while the market was in progress on the Friday morning. It’s on a different scale altogether from Mallaig, as you will see from the photos. The whole port is on a different scale – but it’s always good to go and see other Ports and to have the chance to discuss common issues. The scale of operations at various ports might vary significantly, but many of the challenges are similar.
The Marina is now closed for the season, and Gena has finished for the Winter. As some of you will know, Chris Jones has been off for a period. We’re looking forward to having him back in the next week or so, but we’re also very grateful to Gena for holding the fort in his absence, and to Kenny Harris, Ross Carr and Ruairidh McDonell who all stepped in to help keep the Marina running smoothly at various times over the summer. Looking at the figures for the year this was our busiest season since the Marina opened, with 1,857 nights occupied by visiting boats over the season, as well as a number of regular charters operating from Mallaig.