1st – 24th January

Harbour News

Quiet start to the year with 20 arrivals for the period.

Whitefish landings totalled 5200 boxes from 3 Scottish trawlers, 1 Anglo Spanish freezer trawler and 2 Anglo Spanish liners. The Scottish trawler Audacious sailed on the 27th December in atrocious weather conditions and worked for 7 days landing a good shot for the first market on the 4th January. With fish prices very high due to the awful weather at least the boats were well rewarded for the hardships endured. The Anglo fleet are back working their traditional shelf edge grounds and have also struggled with high winds and swell making it difficult to haul their gear.

The shellfish fleet have in the main managed to work away; the offshore crabbers landed good shots weekly, the scallop dredger Rois Mhairi called in with a decent haul from local waters whilst the prawn fleet have dodged away between the gales.

The non fishing sector saw the arrival of the ETV Anglian Monarch for fuel and the Marine Scotland vessel Alba Na Mara in for a layover. The future of the Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) fleet is as yet undecided, further meetings are scheduled over the next couple of months to try and find a solution before the contract extension comes to an end on the 31st March.

Ferry services have suffered severe disruption over the period; in particular the freight ferry Muirneag has cancelled a number of sailings due to either mechanical breakdown or severe weather. The Isle of Lewis is currently undergoing refit with the smaller Clansman covering the route for the next 2 to 3 weeks. The much publicised political hot potato Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) took another turn recently with the planned withdrawal of the discount scheme for larger commercial vehicle. The pilot scheme was introduced in 2008 to measure the effect on the local economy by offering reduced fares to all travelling to and from the Western Isles. Certainly since the introduction of RET the tourist traffic has increased, likewise passenger numbers are up and freight levels are also at an all time high. The withdrawal of RET on freight will see a fare increase of up to 175% for some hauliers, it will be interesting to measure the effect this will have on the long term economy of the Western Isles?

Tall Ship News

The top sail schooner Wylde Swan has confirmed a return to Ullapool from 14thApril – 4th May 2012 with a number of voyages planned to various west coast islands. The itinerary is almost fixed and will be in next week’s Ullapool News and on the harbours website very soon. A number of people have already expressed an interest and will be contacted in advance to select the voyage that best suits them. Ullapool Harbour Trust will sponsor up to 6 youngsters for a voyage on Wylde Swan and again we have started to compile a list of interested individuals aged 16 and over. Should you wish to be considered for a sponsored place, or are interested in taking part as a paying passenger please email the harbour to register an interest. kevin@ullapool-harbour.co.uk