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March 2024

News from Mallaig Harbour: March 2024

By News

It’s been another mixed month of weather, with not much activity for the fishing boats, although this week is looking more promising, and as I am writing this we have quite a few ice orders in for boats hoping to head out to sea. We’re also expecting the first of the landings from visiting Irish boats in the next couple of weeks, which will boost the landings figures!

Our meeting room was used to host a meeting chaired by the Regional Inshore Fisheries Group (RIFG) on Thursday 15th February. Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups aim ‘to improve the sustainable management of inshore fisheries and to give commercial inshore fishers a voice in wider marine management developments.’ A new structure for RIFGs was established in January 2023, and Marine Scotland is now consulting on their impact, remit and organisation, as well as options for the future. The survey is open until 30th April 2024, and should take around 15 minutes to complete. If you have an interest in the inshore fishing industry, then please take some time to complete it. You can access it from this link .

We’ve had a draft of the Economic Impact Assessment, which has provided some good information, and we’re grateful to those who gave their time to input to the study. As a Board, we have decided to commission some case studies to sit alongside the main document, and these will be ready by the end of March. Headline figures from the report are that Mallaig Harbour contributes to 200FTE jobs in the local area, generating a turnover of £30.94 million for the businesses and organisations using the Harbour, and a total GVA of £12.03 million locally. We know that these figures don’t necessarily mean much in isolation, and this is where the case studies will help to present a better and easier to understand picture of the impact associated with the Harbour.

The 200FTEs noted in the Economic Impact Assessment included 27 employed by MOWI at the Harvest Station, and some of you will have heard locally that this number is under review. MOWI is currently reviewing its overall salmon harvesting procedures, which will affect staff requirements in the Harvest Station in Mallaig, and the company is going through a consultation process with those staff who will be affected. This process is ongoing so the details of what this will mean for the Harvest Station, and for operations through the Harbour more generally are not yet known.

We have issued the tender documentation for the Overnight ferry berth this month, with the aim of having everything in place to start construction in the Autumn. CMAL have published a question and answer document relating to the replacement vessel for the Lord of the Isles, and this is available on their website, Transport Scotland have also published their Islands Connectivity Plan Strategic Approach, which sets out a long term vision for how ferry services, supported by other transport links, will be delivered and improved in the future. As part of this, a consultation is open on the Vessels and Ports Plan. This consultation is open until 3rd May, and is available on Transport Scotland’s website,, and search for ‘Islands Connectivity Plan’. The Vessels and Ports Plan makes very little reference to Mallaig, and the works needed to ensure the Harbour infrastructure is fit for new vessels as these are built. It does make reference to ‘Additional developments’, which include the Small Vessel Replacement Programme Phase 2, which is where any replacement vessels for Mallaig-Armadale would come in, and to the Small Isles vessel replacement project and associated works, but doesn’t specify what these might be. It goes on to give a bit more detail on the Small Isles replacement, which it is hoped would be in place before 2030/31. This seems like a long time away, but consultation will have to start soon to achieve this. CalMac’s difficulties continue, with increased works identified for the MV Coruisk, MV Caledonian Isles and MV Isle of Mull during their annual overhaul periods. This, combined with the ‘Route Prioritisation Framework’ published in 2023, means that it’s possible that the MV Coruisk may have to be deployed elsewhere in the network rather that on the Mallaig-Armadale route for the start of the summer season. Nothing has been confirmed as yet, although CalMac hope to publish amended timetables on 5th March.

In more positive news, I was invited to attend the launch of ‘Mallaig Clean’ up at Mallaig Primary school on Monday 26th February. The Eco-Group children and their teachers and some parents have worked really hard to establish ‘Mallaig Clean’, to help make Mallaig ‘a clean and green town that everyone can enjoy and be proud of’. I’m sure you will be able to read more about their efforts elsewhere in West Word. I was also invited to go back and talk to the children about Marine Litter in particular at their Friday assembly. The children had loads of good questions for me about marine litter, and were able to share lots of information about the damage it does to our environment. We’re hoping to be able to work with the Scottish Islands Federation to remove some more marine litter from the Small Isles and Skye this year and recycle it into something useful so hopefully we can continue to work with the school and ‘Mallaig Clean’ into the future. It was really great to see how enthusiastic and knowledgeable the children were. They can’t clean all of Mallaig on their own though, so there is a section of the website for anyone who wants to volunteer to help!  

Our new Deputy Harbour Master came and spent an afternoon with us on 16th February, and he hopes to start officially on Tuesday 26th March. He’s currently based in Glasgow, and has previously lectured at the Nautical College as well as serving at sea. There’s a lot to learn so he will be working alongside Pimmy for the first few months to understand how everything operates. We’ll introduce him more fully next month!

Jacqueline McDonell