Whitefish totalled 14,100 boxes from fifteen Scottish trawl, two Anglo longline and two Anglo freezer netters. The Scottish fleet has been concentrating on monkfish and groundfish along the shelf edge west of the Butt of Lewis. Fishing has been steady with boats landing mixed loads of high value species despite the at times very stormy weather. The Anglo fleet continues to fish and land further north and visit the harbour only occasionally these days. The line fleet continues to concentrate on hake and ling from deepwater and the freezer netters are fishing for monkfish and crab from the offshore banks.
Shellfish landings were few and far between with two visiting prawn trawlers and a single scallop boat combined with the efforts of the local fleet.
Non-fishing activity was busy once again; fish farm support vessels predominantly made up the numbers. The treatment tank ships Inter Caledonia, Ronjfisk, Bakkanes and Aqua Skye made multiple visits for crew, fuel and maintenance. The Migdale called in for two loads of smolts and the Megan M and Sally Ann called in for layovers. The Briggs survey vessel Mersey Guardian spent a week surveying the harbour approaches for a new subsea electricity cable running from Ullapool to Aultbea. Finally, the MCA-chartered ETV Ievoli Black made two visits for fuel and crew.
Shore Street Project Update
Confirmation of planning has been received but the Marine License remains outstanding which is disappointing given the £22K application fee. The project is out to tender with all returns due by Tuesday 23 December which will give a more accurate estimate of project cost. Transport Scotland – Roads will be asked to commit to paying for all aspects of the trunk road improvements. The harbour, with assistance from Crown Estate, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Royal Bank of Scotland and the UK Government Levelling Up fund, will meet the costs of the Inner Harbour.
At the latest board meeting the harbour trustees expressed their gratitude and said farewell to board member Jonathan Reid who has completed two terms in office. The harbour would like to welcome Lucy Beattie to the team.
2021 Fishing Summary
Scottish Whitefish 186 landings Top Scottish Whitefish Adventurer 26 landings
Anglo Spanish 64 landings Top Anglo Spanish Whitefish Sir Miles 6 landings
2021 was another challenging year for all sectors with some such as cruise and marine leisure virtually wiped out by the continuing pandemic. The Ullapool to Stornoway ferry service returned to normal however passenger numbers were much reduced in the springtime. Summer brought with it a deluge of tourists which impacted heavily on the Calmac network with most ferries oversubscribed. Despite restrictions the Scottish whitefish vessels had another good year with arrivals up 7%. The Anglo fleet arrivals was 40% down on the previous year with vessels working further north. Likewise the shellfish sector was much quieter with very limited market opportunities and no export of shellfish to China. Brexit brought with it quota confusion, export delays and reams of new and ambiguous paperwork for the seafood sector. Thankfully prices have remained strong and the bureaucracy has been streamlined somewhat from the early days.
Harbour sponsorship, donations and in-kind support continued with the Book Festival, Community Trust, High School, Primary School, Beach Cleaning, Lochbroom House, Community Council play parks, the Dolphin Arts Project and Ullapool Fire and Light some of the beneficiaries. In addition, scrap metal was collected and sold throughout the year and the proceeds donated to Ullapool Museum and Gino’s Cantina. UHT continue to roll over funds to send local youngsters away for Tall Ship sail training adventures. Harbour calendars are in the shops with all profits going towards the Tall Ship trainee fund.
When regulations became less rigid during the year, it was great to see Ullapool Film Club resume film nights in the ferry terminal. More recently, Joan Michael hosted Ullapool Book Festival’s first face to face author reading in almost two years in the building and was thrilled that so many festival fans turned out – albeit disguised in their masks. Finally, under the care of Anne-Marie O’Sullivan of the Dolphin Arts Project, who guided her group to design and make the backdrop for an online choral event at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh, the hardworking Dolphins got to see the results of their work on film last Sunday at the ferry terminal.
It’s hard to forecast what 2022 will bring. Fishermen continue to invest and work hard despite a complete lack of support and direction from government. The cruise industry seems to be bouncing back with thirty five vessels in the diary for the coming year. The Loch Seaforth ferry is too small for demand and it would be nice to see Scottish Government invest in a dedicated freight ship to support island communities.
There is no doubt 2021 has been a year like no other but despite COVID the harbour has remained open for business every day of the year. Staff have adapted to conditions and despite the risks have tied up ferries and landed boats as required. Likewise Calmac shore and ship staff have done an amazing job keeping the service running day after day – well done to you all. On behalf of Ullapool Harbour Trustees and staff I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers, tenants and stakeholders a very Merry Christmas and our very best wishes for a happy, healthy and increasingly COVID-free 2022.