A later start to the cruise season and ferries off-service for scheduled maintenance were among influences on activity levels at Lerwick Harbour in the first half of this year.

The peak months for cruise ships are in the third quarter, rather than in the second as in 2016, and the two roll-on/roll-off ferries between the Shetland port and Orkney and Aberdeen were dry-docked early-year. The effects were felt on passenger numbers and vessel arrivals and tonnage.

There was a 10% decrease in passengers to 72,889, with 3.6% fewer at 58,912 on ferries and cruise passengers down by 29% to 13,977.

Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, Sandra Laurenson, said: “Activity levels in the first half were a matter of timing. Peak cruise traffic is later, in July and August, and the port will set new records by September. Ferries off-route for scheduled maintenance and upgrade are a necessary, periodic occurrence.

“While the downturn in the oil industry continues to work its way through, we are entering the next phase with decommissioning work, including the arrival of the Buchan Alpha floating production facility in August for lengthy dismantling and recycling.”

The number of ships arriving in the first six months was down 5.5% at 2,199, compared to the same period last year, with the tonnage at 5.1 million gross tonnes, down 6%. Oil-related arrivals were down 6%, with tonnage virtually unchanged. Cargo to the end of June was down 3% at 443,881 tonnes.

Total fish landings added up to 16,126 tonnes, valued at £17.9 million – down 26% on volume and 7.5% on value. There were 3,977 tonnes of white fish landed, valued at £7.3 million – up 4.4% on value, with a price per tonne up 15.5% to £1,846 per tonne. Pelagic landings early-year reflected poor market conditions. The main fishery begins in August.

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