Harbour News 20 March–1 April 2019

40 arrivals for the period

Whitefish totalled 11,000 boxes from nine Scottish trawlers, a Shetland seine netter, six Anglo Spanish long-liners and a single landing from a freezer netter. The Rockall haddock fishery is now in full swing with a fleet of boats working on the bank catching cod, haddock, saithe and monkfish. The Rockall haddock quota was significantly increased this year; early signs are good with fish plentiful across the grounds. The stormy weather has restricted the Shetland-registered seine netter Avrella from heading west to Rockall; the vessel and her crew have spent two trips in St Kilda and Oban waters. These traditional grounds used to be worked by a fleet of east coast seine net vessels based in Oban and Mallaig but in recent years have been mainly fished by prawners. Avrella landed a good shot in Oban last week and arrived in Ullapool this week with two lorry-loads of inshore haddocks, whiting and megrim. The Anglo fleet continues to struggle with poor returns for their efforts; a few vessels have started to work further south but catches remain unusually poor for this time of year.

The shellfish sector has been fairly steady.   Alongside the local fleet, a number of visiting prawn trawlers have landed good catches and filled up with ice before returning to the grounds.

Meanwhile in non-fishing traffic, the fish-farm tug Sally Ann called in for layovers, three SMIT naval support vessels were day-running to the Minch war games and the pelagic super trawler Altaire returned to drop off scientists following the mackerel egg survey.

Harbour projects continue.  A new refrigerated fish and prawn store is being erected.  This will supersede the dated and non-compliant old storage area in the harbour building. The new building has a chilled section and a wet storage area, both with 400-box capacity and an open east gable for the storage of creel bait bins. It will be operational by the end of May in time for those hot summer months ahead.