MINISTERS are under pressure to find an urgent solution to widespread disruption on Scotland’s ferry network.

Kate Forbes, the MSP for the island of Skye, has written to Transport Minister Humza Yousaf urging him to intervene.

The move comes after a string of delays and cancellations to the service run by Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) due to its increasingly ageing fleet.

Islay, Harris and Uist have already been hit by disruption with one of two ferries that normally serve the island of Islay withdrawn to work on the Tarbert and Lochmaddy routes.

Read more: CalMac warns of delays and breakdowns over ageing fleet

In particular, Ms Forbes has also raised concerns about disruption to a popular route from Skye to Lochaber after CalMac’s decision to remove a ferry from the route in March to help other parts of the service.

The resulting delays and cancellations have led to island businesses reporting a substantial drop in visitors compared to the same period last year.

In a letter to Mr Yousaf, Ms Forbes said: “The crossing will have seen 125 cancellations in the first 25 days of the summer timetable because of the domino effect of moving vessels about.

“This is having a seriously adverse impact on the local economy, with one popular tourist attraction in the south of Skye reporting a 25 per cent drop in visitor numbers.

“We all recognise the challenges of the ageing fleet, but there are people here whose daily lives are being affected.”

Ms Forbes said the service could no longer “lurch from summer to summer” with growing uncertainty.

She added: “Whilst it is helpful to know a second, albeit smaller, vessel is coming to serve the route soon, we shouldn’t be in this position in the first place.

“The bottom line is that people need to live, work and travel and for the last month there has been far too much uncertainty over the route.”

Meanwhile, the Sleat Transport Forum has demanded an urgent “root and branch review” of the ferry service as a result of the disruption.

Read more: Island businesses warn income down by a third

A spokesman said: “Communities across the west coast and islands have seen unprecedented disruption to services caused in part, by a catastrophic programme of winter vessel dry-docking, and decisions to redeploy vessels on routes only for these to be reversed following understandable public and political pressure.

“The long-troubled Mallaig to Armadale route is now entering its third season of disruption with the news that a vessel planned to provide operational resilience has now been delayed by a further two weeks.

Business in south Skye, Mallaig and Lochaber are now experiencing significant reductions in visitor numbers and we are dismayed that two vessels under construction in Glasgow are now estimated to be running more than a year late in delivery.”

Robbie Drummond, CalMac’s managing director, said the company was facing a “highly regrettable situation”.

He said: “Our first priority is to continue to provide lifeline service to island communities.

“The overrun of our annual vessel dry dock schedule into the summer season is regrettable and we realise this is going to impact adversely on some communities, which we apologise for.

“However, under the circumstances, the timetable arrangements we have now put in place for the period of disruption are the best options we have.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “While these issues are an operational matter for CalMac, we understand the frustration of the communities which rely on their ferry services.

“CalMac is seeking to manage the situation by redeploying vessels within the fleet to ensure lifeline connections are maintained to all the communities it serves on the Clyde and Hebrides network.

“The frequency of service for some routes may, however, be reduced from normal during the period of disruption.”