Oil rig arrival sparks gear move for fishermen

The Kishorn Port Ltd facility

Creel fishermen from Skye and the west Highlands have spent the last couple of weeks moving their gear from the path of a 60,000-tonne oil rig that is due to be moored off Kishorn next week.

The Ocean GreatWhite will spend several weeks at the Kishorn Port Ltd yard in preparation for its transportation to the North Sea to drill for oil. It is due to reach the KPL facility early next week, although earlier this week it was moored off Ullapool during high winds while the tug ‘Ievoli Black’ sheltered in Gruinard Bay. The rig was still there on Friday (11th January).

Alistair Philp, secretary of the North West Responsible Fisherman’s Association, praised KPL for the standard of communication with the affected fishermen.

He said: “They have been pretty good with updating us. We have been getting passage plans and times and we have been disseminating that information out to the local fishermen. I believe much of the Inner Sound gear has been cleared from the anticipated path of the rig.

“I spent a whole day moving my own gear. We can only hope that the rig sticks to the route given. It’s been quite a lot of disruption to many of the fishermen and if the rig deviates even a hundred or so metres there is still plenty of opportunity to foul the moved. and now more-densely packed fishing gear but at least in the area where I am working there has been a 200-plus metre corridor cleared where the advertised track says the rig will be.

“No doubt there are some fishermen who are on holiday or who for whatever reason have not had the opportunity to clear all their gear. However, so long as the OGW sticks to its route damage should be minimised.”

Despite the optimism, Mr Philp said he wasn’t sure what “process or policy is in place” in the event of damaged or destroyed gear.

He added: “I would suggest that, considering this the first time this has happened in over 30 years, we assess the outcome from the passage of the rig and then cross that bridge when we come to it. So far, the fishermen and KPL are working together to minimise disruption. Hopefully, if there are any issues, they can be resolved in good faith afterwards.

“Considering this may become a regular occurrence and some fishermen are dedicating considerable time to moving gear clear and then once the rig is in Kishorn will have to dedicate considerable time to reinstating their gear, it would only seem reasonable in future to consider our options for some sort of compensation for the disruption.”