September has been a quieter month in lots of ways, which has given me a chance to catch my breath! The Marina is much quieter, and the demand from fishing boats for ice has also slowed down a bit. We had trialled automatic access to the ice plant at the start of September, but there are still some issues with the delivery so this hasn’t been entirely successful. We’re still working with TRS to resolve the ongoing issues but it is causing quite a bit of frustration for us and the fishing fleet.
We’ve received the UK Sea Fisheries Statistics this month, which show the importance of the fishing industry in Scotland. In 2018, UK vessels landed 698 thousand tonnes of sea fish (including shellfish) into the UK and abroad with a value of £989 million. Landings by Scottish vessels were well over 400 thousand tonnes in each of the last four years, a result of increased mackerel landings. In 2018, the Scottish fleet’s share of total landings was 64 per cent, compared with 27 per cent for the English fleet. If anyone is interested, you can access the full report at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uk-sea-fisheries-annual-statistics-report-2018
The picture for Mallaig is not quite so rosy, and indeed, in July’s monthly report to the Board Members, I had to report that White fish landings in July 2019 were only 3% of the landings in 2018, mainly due to far fewer visiting boats this summer. In July 2018, 105,000 units of fish were landed by visiting boats, whereas the figure for this year was 212 units! Hopefully this was an exceptionally low year, and won’t be repeated next summer!
We had a Board Meeting on 13th September, and as part of this, Donna Manson, the Chief Executive of The Highland Council came along to meet the Board and learn a bit about the Authority’s plans for development, whilst she was undertaking visits in the area anyway.
After the Board Meeting, the Directors had a farewell dinner for Robert MacMillan in the West Highland Hotel. Robert was presented with an aerial print of the Harbour, looking up to Loch Nevis and hospitality at a Rangers Football match – now that he has time to enjoy a trip away!
The road at Westbay is progressing well, although there might be a slight delay before the tar can be laid – due to other demands on the tarring company.
We had two film crews around the Harbour this month. The BBC sent a cameraman from Autumnwatch to follow Martin Carty on his annual Shearwater rescue. Unfortunately, it was calm and there was a full moon on the days of filming, and the Shearwaters are less inclined to fledge in a full moon, so despite there having been plenty of activity the previous week, the Shearwaters were a bit shier when the camera crew were here!
On 24th September, Young Films came over from Skye to film a scene for the Gaelic drama ‘Bannan’. They were filming over lunchtime on the ‘bandstand’ in the centre of the village, and on the ‘Lord of the Isles’ on their way back to Skye.
Mallaig Harbour Authority has received a final draft of the STAG appraisal, which has been ongoing all year. STAG is short for Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance, and this one has been looking at the options for ferry infrastructure in both Mallaig and Armadale. There were initially 5 options identified for Mallaig, but the final draft recognises that three of these are not realistic, and so has recommended that only two options go forward for further investigation. One of these two options closely aligns with the Harbour’s own Masterplan. We have a final meeting to agree the draft on the 8th October, so more information will be available next month.
As part of my previous role with HIE, I was invited to sit on the Highland and Moray Fisheries Local Action Group, www.highlandmorayflag.co.uk, and I have been able to continue this role representing the Harbour Authority. Although the programme is coming to an end, there is still some funding left for projects led by community organisations or small businesses which provide a benefit to fisheries communities. You can find all the details on the website.
Jacqueline McDonell, CEO