Increasing cargo and passenger traffic contribute
Increases in cargo, passengers and mackerel landings helped the Port of Lerwick achieve forecast traffic levels in the half-year to June, 2014, compared with the same period in 2013.
The total for all cargoes handled at the port rose 8%, with combined ferry and cruise passengers jumping 13.8%.
The number of vessel arrivals, at 2,230, was down 11%, mainly due to a decrease in fishing vessels – also reflected in white fish landings which declined due to bad weather in the early part of the year, vessel refits and boats on charter to the oil industry.
The tonnage of vessels at 5.5 million gross tonnes was down 10%, principally due to an expected decrease in offshore industry bulk carriers/pipe-burying vessels compared with project work last year.
The decrease was seen in the forecast drop in oil-related vessel tonnage, down 24% to 1.4 million gross tonnes. However, oil-related arrivals held steady, at 307, as did offshore industry cargo – at 92,135 tonnes, less than one percent down.
The total for all cargoes handled at the port rose 8% at 582,253 tonnes.
Sandra Laurenson, Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, commented: “The nature of offshore projects means that the scale and type of traffic fluctuate. The reduced ship tonnages were forecast and are partially offset by the long-term presence of a significant tonnage of accommodation vessels housing construction workers at the Shetland Gas Plant. The deep-water port continues to be busy supporting major development and decommissioning projects.
“The sustained high level of other offshore activity and increased cargo and passenger figures are all positives. There was a welcome boost to winter mackerel landings at the start of the year, although the autumn fishery may be more modest due to poor international markets.”
While first quarter biennial refits to the two roll-on/roll-off ferries on the Aberdeen/Kirkwall routes and bad weather which disrupted ferries and an earlier-than-usual start to the cruise season saw passenger numbers reduced during the first three months, figures rebounded in the second quarter to deliver a 13.8% increase to 78,894 for the half year.
Ferry passengers increased by 3.5% to 60,479, while cruise passengers rose 70% to 18,415, with the 25 cruise ships calling at Lerwick up 39%.
Fish landings went up 25% on volume and 35% on value, totaling 37,091 tonnes worth £35.1 million.
White fish, at 4,676 tonnes valued at £7.1 million, was down 19% on volume and 17% on value, with the price per tonne increased by 2.7% to average £1,528 per tonne.