The Sprat pump was installed but so far there haven’t been any landings of Sprats, which is always disappointing. Not only do Sprat landings give a good boost at the end of the year to the fisheries, it would also have been a good test for the ice plant, which was shut down for a week in November while we installed a new gearbox and undertook various other bits of maintenance. Although we think of the ice plant being ‘new’, it has been in operation for almost four years now and so was needing some TLC. As with all things Harbour related, there had to be a challenge around the works! Despite us and the boats being organised, with ice orders made for the preceding Friday to last the fishing boats through the planned shut-down, the Ronja Challenger used the berth overnight on the Thursday and had an engine breakdown, which meant it couldn’t move on the Friday morning to allow the fishing boats in. Thankfully the Harbour staff had a plan ‘B’ and the new ice bins we had ordered in anticipation of a busy sprat season were filled and put in the chill for the boats to access as required.
I attended the Aquaculture and Innovation Day as part of Lochaber Ideas Week. Servicing the Aquaculture industry is a big part of the Harbour’s income and it was good to meet with others involved in the industry and to see some of the new ideas that are coming through. As we are looking at development in the Harbour, it’s useful to understand some of the innovations that might be taking place in the Aquaculture industry, so that we can adapt our plans to support these. The idea of ‘active’ fendering systems for example, which use tidal motion to generate electricity, is something that we might be able to consider down the line. Some of the ideas being talked about, such as these ‘active’ fenders, are just at concept design, while others, such as a hybrid system which uses the diesel generators on fish farms to intelligently charge and discharge batteries, and therefore reduces reliance on these diesel generators, saving money and reducing carbon emissions, are already well established.
Although the fishing has been very quiet, there is still a lot of activity on the Harbour – with lots of interesting loads of cargo for Knoydart recently. One of our Board Members, Jim Wilson has been working with the Knoydart Foundation (Knoydart Renewables) on their project to provide energy security, so we took delivery of a new transformer recently, as well as miles of new cabling and the pipework for it to be buried in. There’s also roof trusses and lots of insulated board, which we are presuming is for someone’s new house. Sometimes I think that it should be a condition of building materials being loaded over the pier that we get a photo of the finished project – it would be interesting to chart the progress over the years!
We’ve had a visit this month from staff at the Advanced Manufacturing Centre (AMC), part of the UHI based in Fort William, who are able to support Small and Medium sized enterprises throughout the Highlands and Islands. The Centre can provide a range of services to help local businesses, including 3D scanning and printing (at scales up to full building size!); Project Support and CAD and CAM services. Although we don’t really manufacture anything on the Harbour, we do have some ideas that they can hopefully help us with – including streamlining processes in the feed shed to manage stock better. Another example the AMC used was being able to 3D scan boats to allow organisations to consider how any changes that they might be proposing to make to the layout on deck (or below) would impact the vessel. The Advanced Manufacturing Centre is happy to help all sectors of business, and are really approachable and helpful, so if you have anything you think they can support you with – get in quick as there is EU funding available for the next few months.
Wallace Stone have been in discussion with potential contractors about how the works in the Outer Harbour might proceed, and have provided us with some potential options. As a Board we are going to consider these, and the associated disruption that they might cause, and we will then be talking to wider stakeholders, hopefully early in the new year.
Finally, we’d like to wish all Harbour users, and the wider community, a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year when it comes.