Harbour News 25 February to 10 March 2015

21 arrivals for the period

Whitefish totalled 2750 from 11 Anglo-Spanish landings. The long-line fishing fleet continue to work away despite the awful weather and make very good weekly landings of top quality high value product. Interestingly the Scottish line fleet became a thing of the past when owners changed to seine net and trawl in the 70s. The Scottish long-line fleet of old used to land beautiful shots of quality fish in Aberdeen fish market where upwards of 200 halibut were weighed and sold individually such was their value. Nowadays the Scottish fleet struggles to make ends meet with high fuel costs, quota restrictions and a discard ban.  The Anglo fleet on the other hand operates an efficient, discard-free, low cost fishery for high reward.

Shellfish landings once were again limited to the offshore crabbers and the local prawn twin riggers Headway and Ocean Trust. The regular Orcadian crabber Heather K was towed in last time round with gearbox issues and awaits spares and the Our Hazel works away despite hellish conditions at times. Likewise the prawners try to make a day’s pay between squalls and storms.

Non-fishing was quiet with the fishfarm support vessel Tie Venture in for shelter. The Shetland super trawler Altaire visited to pick up scientific crew and equipment. The high value western mackerel stock undergoes a three yearly scientific assessment with egg abundance used as the measure of relative population size. The Altaire is on charter to Marine Scotland to undertake a survey of the Bay of Biscay by towing a plankton sampler which catches mackerel eggs suspended in the water column. The volume of water through the sampler is calculated thus giving a density of eggs which is then compared with previous year’s results.

Ferry works continue to progress with the extended pier and gangway in daily operation for the new vessel Loch Seaforth. The new vessel is proving to be very popular with travellers and has already crossed the Minch on days that the Isle of Lewis would have remained alongside. The Terminal building is virtually complete with Building Control carrying out an inspection on March 10th.  All being well Calmac will move in and be operational by the end of March. The replacement Linkspan is progressing very well with 2 of the 3 main concrete structures now complete.  The enhanced power supply and sub-station have now been installed. Contractors are still on target for a vehicular closure / passenger-only service for 4 weeks commencing 20th April.

Wylde Swan St Kilda trips are selling well with over half the places sold for each of the two voyages. I suspect that 2015 may well be the last year that Wylde Swan runs cruises from the harbour and would urge those of you who are swithering to take the plunge.  You won’t regret it.