Peterhead Port Authority has introduced remote pilotage for selected vessels entering the harbour as part of a package of measures designed to reduce the risk of staff and users contracting the Covid-19 virus.
Harbour Master John Forman said the preferred option would be for pilots not to board vessels entering and exiting the harbour, instead remaining on their pilot boat and delivering instructions to vessel masters via VHF radio.
And for those vessels requiring a pilot to come aboard, such as tankers, the Port is asking that two-metre social distancing be observed throughout.
Mr Forman said: “Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are enhancing social distancing and limiting movement of staff wherever possible.
“Remote pilotage is part of that. We are urging vessel operators to communicate often and early with port control to ensure that delays are avoided.
“Clearly remote pilotage will not be suitable for all vessels, and decisions will be taken on a case-by-case basis, but we hope to be able to handle most traffic in this way.”
Meanwhile, under the direction of Peter Duncan, Head of Fishing – Commercial, the Port has introduced a range of measures to allow the Greenhill Fish Market to continue to operate while observing social distancing requirements.
The measures include:
- Vessel landing limit – No entry to market from quayside after 0600hrs. This has been accepted by all as a necessary restriction which allows the market staff time to conduct their daily checks and procedures before any of the processors arrive in the market for the commencement of the sale.
- Spacing of the fish – This effectively reduces the amount of fish that can be landed in the fish market by 50% – space has been allocated so that there is a three metre-plus distance between each row of fish. This allows stakeholders who are in the auction room the ability to pass each other at the required social distance.
- Transport delay – the transport time uplift has been delayed to 0800hrs each morning. This means that the labour force who uplift the fish are not permitted entry to the auction hall until that time each morning. This allows the processors to have completed their sale and have either left the building or move to the opposite end of the building before the transport and labour force arrives, thus keeping the two groups of people separate.
- One-way system – Stakeholders are encouraged to leave the fish market via the end door at Greenhill (exit only) thus there is no cross over of people entering and leaving the market.
- Hand wash / boot wash – This facility has been in place since the market opened with hand sanitiser being commonly used.
Peterhead Fish Market has the highest hygiene and ethical standards possible for a fish storage facility through the BRCGS, Seafish, Marine Stewardship Council and Environmental Health. The processes and procedures that were put in place prior to the Covid-19 outbreak have ensured that this facility remains operational and hygienic in these uncertain times.
Simon Brebner, CEO of Peterhead Port Authority, said: “It is even more so now the time to assure our stakeholders of our ability to take proactive measures to keep the port and the fish market open for business allowing the supply of vital seafood to flow into the UK retail and wholesale markets, keeping the nation fed and nourished.
“I am proud of our team of dedicated employees who are making this happen, implementing initiatives such as social distancing and hygiene control measures within our fish market’s operational footprint, keeping everyone as safe as possible whilst going about their business.”