Busy start to the year

Port users across various sectors have contributed to a strong first quarter performance at Lerwick Harbour, with increases in cargo, passengers, fish landings, and tonnage of shipping compared to the same period in 2012.

Total cargo handled was up 8% at 222,195 tonnes, due mainly to higher frozen fish exports and imports of materials by roll-on/roll-off vessels in support of work ongoing in Shetland.

Passenger numbers on the Lerwick-Kirkwall-Aberdeen routes totalled 20,874, up 21% compared to the first three months of 2012, when both roll-on/roll-off ferries underwent scheduled dry-docking for biennial servicing.

Fish landings, at 23,182 tonnes, were valued at £20.8 million – up 55% on volume and 48% on value.

In the pelagic sector, winter mackerel landings increased substantially following low volumes in the 2012 season. White fish, at 2,348 tonnes was valued at £3.2 million – down 20% on volume and 29% on value, with the price per tonne down 11% to average £1,372 per tonne.

Although vessel arrivals were down 16% at 964 – mainly due to fewer small fishing boats – there was a 16% rise to 2.45 million gross tonnes in the tonnage of all vessels calling, including a 30% increase for oil-related shipping, and a 26% jump in the tonnage of vessels piloted. The figures reflect the trend in larger ships using Lerwick’s deep-water facilities, including for growing offshore industry project support.

Sandra Laurenson, Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, said: “The broad spread of activity, adding up to an encouraging start of the year, underlines the importance of the harbour’s versatile facilities and continuing development. With the cruise season now underway and healthy bookings already for 2014, and support for offshore operations continuing to build, the future remains positive.”

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