Harbour News 17 March-14 April 2020

39 Arrivals for the period.

Ullapool Harbour Trust continues to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic supporting vital transport links to the Western Isles alongside handling routine fishing and commercial traffic.  Harbour services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phone, email and VHF.  All the while staff are observing strict social distancing and hygiene measures.  The ferry is presently making two daily runs for essential lifeline and freight services and this arrangement is in place until 15 July.  The overnight service has been temporarily suspended and the operator Calmac has restricted ferry terminal opening times in line with arrivals.  The hardest hit sectors are shellfish (see below) and cruise, leisure and Tall Ships of which there are no predicted arrivals for the foreseeable future. 
Whitefish landings totalled 32,250 boxes from thirty one Scottish trawl and two Anglo-Spanish longline landings.  The Rockall haddock fishery is well underway; boat-loads are being landed and consigned direct to processors in Peterhead.  Shelf edge fishing has also been very productive – huge shots of coley (Saithe) have been caught west of the Butt of Lewis.  Despite Covid-19, the Scottish whitefish sector continues to supply the nation with fresh fish daily.  Demand is keen and prices are good which is well deserved.  The weak link in the continued supply may well be the filleters, who on a daily basis work in cramped conditions processing and vacuum-packing the catches.  The Anglo fleet continues to work mostly further north, landing only occasionally at Ullapool on the way back to Spain for a crew change.
The shellfish sector has been all but decimated and markets across Europe suspended for the time being.  The Scottish Government has stepped in with an initial package of £5 million in financial support to assist businesses during the current crisis.
The harbour’s income will be heavily impacted in 2020 as it suffers much-reduced ferry revenue, no shellfish landings and a non-existent cruise and leisure business.  Additionally, recognising the fragile nature of many local businesses, the Trustees awarded a rent break to all harbour tenants for an initial three-month period to try and relieve some of their financial pressures at this difficult time. 
The harbour will continue to operate in accordance with government requirements while taking the welfare of the workforce into account.  In the meantime, please accept the best wishes from the harbour team and take good care of yourselves as we get through these very challenging times.