Fishing Industry and Fish Farming
The main source of employment in Leverburgh used to be the fishing industry but over the past few years it has been in decline with now less than ten vessels working out of the port.
Fish farming also employs a number of people in South Harris. West Minch Salmon and Marine Harvest have salmon farming sites in South Harris.
Marine Harvests site at Loch Langabhat is a fresh water site rearing fry to smolt stage when they are then transfered to sea sites throughout the islands.
All the fishing boats working here target shellfish ranging from velvet crabs to prawns and scallops.
The shelfish caught of these shores is of such good quality that it is greatly sought after with the majority of it being shipped to the Continent in vivier lorries.
Velvet Crab Fishery
The smaller inshore boats target velvet crabs. These boats work up to 400 creels which are lifted every day and baited with fresh bait. The catch is stored on rafts for a week. At the begining of each week the entire catch is sorted into 10kg boxes and and shipped out by vivier lorries( lorries with salt water tanks ) to the Spanish markets. You can see the vessels landing their catches at the peir each Monday and Tuesday.
Crab / Lobster Fishery
Targerted by the larger vessels the Edible Crab is caught with the aid of fresh baited creels and Lobsters with salt baited creels. The crab fishery is mainly a wintery fishery done in the Minch( stretch of sea seperating the Outer and Inner Hebrides ), once weather abates around May the boats move thier creels to the West side of Harris to fish for Lobsters. Again the catch is sold on the peir to viver lorries destine for the continent. From the August onwards some of the boats store their lobsters in large rafts and don't sell them until december , this is to take advantage of the more lucrative pre-Christmas prices. Before the weather breaks again in November these boats will return to the Minch crab or prawn fishery.
This fishery takes place in the Minch , now targeted all year round and is done by the larger boats.The prawns are caught with salt baited creels fished in depth of up to 100 fathoms (600feet ). Once on board the vessels the prawns are put into "tubes"( boxes with seperate compartments for each individual prawn) and are kept alive on the boats by the aid of salt water sprinklers. Like the rest of the other shelfish caught here the prawns were kept on rafts and sold to the vivier lorries until recently. The opening of the processing unit and holding facilities at Leverburgh pier now means that fishermen can land their catch to a buyer each night.
The Scallop fishery is targert both by divers and dredgers working along the coastline of the island and the off shore reefs. The main method for fishing scallops is dredging. Diving for Scallops also takes place in and around the Sound of Harris.
This fishery is done on the beaches on the west side of Harris between the months of September - March. The top inch of sand is scraped with a rake and the cockles are then collected by hand, they are then bagged and sent mainly to the Spanish market. This fishery has created several jobs in Harris over the past few year. In January 2010 a new regulation was introduced to save stocks, this regulation prohibits the landing of cockles under 30mm.
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