Happy New Year to everyone! It’s not a great start to the year weather-wise, with high winds forecast for most of the week, and not much movement in the harbour as I am writing this on Monday 6th. We were due to host the Screen Machine on Sunday 5th and Monday 6th January but unfortunately the stormy weather meant that this visit had to be cancelled.
On a more positive note, the Sprat landings continued through December, right up until Wednesday 18th as the weather continued to be kind. A total of 1,210 tonnes was landed pre-Christmas, and the boats requested the pump be left for the start of January, in the hope that there would be more landings of sprats. This was also a boost for our ice plant, as there was almost daily ice required!
The Marina is closed for the Winter season, so we have been reviewing the occupancy figures. Although there were very slightly more vessels in total this season, there were actually less nights occupied at the Marina, with 1,401 in 2019/20 as opposed to 1,602 in 2018/19. June and July were on a par with the previous year, but August was quieter. This year is the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 so it will be interesting to see what impact this has on marine tourism locally. There are some great opportunities to promote the area on social media throughout the year, not least the Sunset competition running all year as West Coast Waters www.westcoastwaters.co.uk try and create a breathtaking West Coast Waters Sunset Trail for the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020. There’s a different prize to be won each fortnight throughout the year, and your photograph doesn’t even have to be new – it just has to be shared to @WCWScotland and tagged #WCWSunsets and the location of the picture.
Mallaig Harbour Authority is a member of The British Ports Authority, who put together a range of information in the run-up to the General Election in December. This included their proposals for ‘A New Deal for UK Fishing Ports’, which you can read at www.britishports.org.uk/fishing. This document recommends three different strands:
Building Economic Resilience – by creating a domestic fisheries fund to replace EU funding which has clear, strategic aims that tie into wider policy to revive UK fishing
Restoring the Economic Link – which suggests increasing landings into UK ports is the best way to ensure that UK coastal communities benefit from UK fisheries. Increasing landings would also put UK fishing ports on a more sustainable economic footing, boosting the wider marine economy.
Maintaining Market Access – which supports Government policy to negotiate a deal on fisheries that preserves frictionless and tariff-free trade for seafood.
Each of these strands could have significant implications for Mallaig Harbour, and the delivery of our new Masterplan, so we will be watching with interest how policy develops.
As many of you will know, the ‘upstairs’ Denholms office in the Harbour Buildings has been empty for a period. As Mallaig Harbour Authority has overall responsibility for the building, we decided as a Board that we should approach Denholms to take back the lease on the space, with the intention of sub-dividing it so that it could be used again. This will allow us to update the whole upstairs of the building, putting in more modern facilities. Denholms renounced the lease at the end of December, so we are currently working with an architect to draw up some plans, with the intention of sub-dividing the existing space into three offices, some storage and a communal kitchen for all the upstairs users.