Local News for Monday 23rd October 2017

50th call-out for Stornoway Coastguards
Stornoway Coastguard Volunteers had their fiftieth tasking of 2017 yesterday, when they were asked to man the Western Isles Hospital landing site and assist Scottish Ambulance Service with the transfer of a casualty from Coastguard helicopter R948. The casualty was a man working in St Kilda who needed to be transferred to Western Isles Hospital due to a medical condition. Stornoway Coastguard was called at 10.36am on Monday and the man reached the Western Isles landing site at 12.33pm.

Ferries on the move
Ferries are being shuffled in the islands as the annual service check for local vessels falls due, with MV Loch Seaforth due to head off to dry dock this week for two weeks. MV Isle of Lewis is due to serve on her old Stornoway Ullapool route during that time, and MV Hebridean Isles will operate on the freight route. CalMac has also advised that their phones will be unavailable from 7pm tonight until 7am tomorrow, due to essential system improvements.

Choirs’ farewell to Mod-tastic Lochaber
Island choirs joined the last celebration in Fort William on Saturday, as the Royal National Mòd closed with the massed choirs. Back conductor Avril Allen and Lochs conductor Ronnie Murray were among those leading the celebration, which had a celebratory atmosphere for islanders despite the rain. It’s been an excellent year for island participants, Coisir Sgire a Bhac winning the Lorn Shield for rural choirs, Laxdale Ladies Choir taking the honours in the waulking competition, Lochs Gaelic Choir and Coisir Bhan na Hearadh bringing home trophies and youngsters from the Nicolson Institute, Sir E Scott School and Coisir Eilean an Fhraoich also contributing to a record year for island choirs. In the top competitions, John Joe MacNeil of Barra and Hannah Knight of Carloway brought home the Traditional Gold Medals while Lewis’s Coinneach MacLeod took home a Silver Pendant. There were numerous successes for island youngsters from primary and secondary age-groups, and John Morrison, Chief Executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach said: “It’s encouraging to see so many young entrants and winners this year, and the quality of competition has been magnificent. I’d like to extend our gratitude to everyone involved in running this year’s Mòd.”

Call for halt to salmon farms
Animal rights campaigners have called for a halt to the opening of new salmon farms, after it was announced that 125,000 farmed salmon have died at a Marine Harvest fish farm in Loch Erisort. Local residents have been living with the smell of dead fish, and seeing lorryloads of fish taken away, after an outbreak of what Marine Harvest identified as the bacterial infection pasteurella skyensis. Saturday’s Herald Scotland newspaper reported that two environmental groups are calling on the Scottish Government to block expansion of fish farms until the safety of the fish can be guaranteed. Marine Harvest has confirmed that several Loch Erisort sites have been infected, with the disease believed to have first struck in August.

Crofting public meetings
Public meetings are to be held by the Crofting Bill team of the Scottish Government, as part of a current consultation seeking views from the public on the future of Crofting. The meetings will be at Carloway Community Centre next Monday, 6th November and at Liniclate on Tuesday 7th November at the Dark Island Hotel. Doors open for both events from 7.15pm.