News from the districts – July 9, 2021

Ulva Pier is to be extended

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Cowal

A bid to boost the population of one of the country’s rarest fish, found in a Cowal freshwater loch, has been declared a success.

The endangered powan is found naturally only in Loch Eck and Loch Lomond, and is threatened by habitat destruction and an invasive fish species that eats its eggs. Faced with the prospect of losing this highly valued piece of Scotland’s natural heritage, a project was launched to introduce eggs and fish to new loch sites and so establish new populations.

Now, after 30 years of conservation work and monitoring, a team of researchers has concluded that the powan has established itself happily in its new homes.

Scientists from Glasgow University working with colleagues from Konstanz in Germany have found that the rare fish have adapted to their new environments by changing their body shape as well as their DNA.

Professor Colin Adams of Glasgow University said: ‘This study is important for biodiversity and conservation management. Actions to conserve fish populations need evidence of their success. This work shows that translocations were a successful way to help Scottish powan. The translocations worked as an emergency measure, but the best mitigation is preserving the original populations.’

Bute

An author who based himself on the Isle of Bute while writing his first novel has hailed the island as the perfect place for creative inspiration.

Thanks to his Bute holiday home’s remote location and rustic nature Andrew Neil MacLeod had the ideal backdrop for writing his supernatural tale of 18th-century Scotland.

He said: ‘When I wrote this I had just moved into a newly-bought house in Rothesay, with no furniture, no internet, no hot water and a leaky roof, so I picked up the stub of a pencil and started to write. I fed myself on a diet of fish suppers, wine, walks by the pier and visits to the local library, while I mentally planned out the whole series.’

Although he was born and raised in Glasgow, Andrew admits to a fascination with Edinburgh’s old town and has set his debut work there in 1773.

Andrew’s book, The Fall of the House of Thomas Weir, is set to be the first in a trilogy called The Casebook of Johnson and Boswell published by Burning Chair Publishing.

Mull

Plans to make Ulva Pier bigger have been given the go-ahead by council chiefs.

No objections were received from the public or from statutory consultees to the proposals by North West Mull Community Woodland Company which include extra berths and a hard standing area for storing fishing gear.

The pier is used by the fishing community as well as by the ferry taking children from Ulva to school on Mull.

Planners were told that the ferry is a small open passenger boat and is susceptible to wind-driven waves generated across the short fetch to the south, so it is proposed to build a small rubble mound breakwater to the south of the pier to make a sheltered area.

The extension means users will be able to access the pier during all tides. The current one is not accessible at low water on spring tides and has limited access at high tide because it is mostly underwater.

The proposal is to to lengthen the pier by 4.5 metres into deeper water and heighten it by 0.5 metres.

Planners were told the development would not impact the historic or natural environment of the site.