The latest activity report from Lerwick Port Authority reflects the ups-and-downs of harbour operations in the current economic climate.

Vessel arrivals, tonnage and passenger numbers were up in the first half of 2018, compared to the same period last year, while freight handled was down and fishing experienced mixed fortunes.

Port Authority Chief Executive, Sandra Laurenson, commented: “The increasing cruise activity and the strong performance by the white fish industry are proving outstanding features this year. The second half is expected to produce more of the same across the various sectors.”

With more fishing boats, salmon carriers, roll-on/roll-off ferries and cruise ships, vessel arrivals increased by 2.2% to 2,246, while the tonnage rose 4.6% to 5.4 million gross tonnes.

Although roll-on/roll-off ferry cargo was up 17% due to last year's switch of shipments from a container vessel, overall cargo for the six months to the end of June was down 17% to 368,653 tonnes, with factors including the downturn in offshore industry operations which also impacted on vessel arrivals and tonnage.

With an anticipated record-breaking cruise season underway and more-than-expected ro/ro ferries following shortened off-service for scheduled maintenance, there was a 33% increase in passengers to 97,177. The two ferries on the Kirkwall and Aberdeen routes carried 2% more to total 60,051. Cruise passenger numbers jumped 166% to 37,126, ahead of the peak months of July and August.

White fish landings, at 128,465 boxes, were up 7%, for an average price per tonne of £1,934 per tonne, an increase of 9.5%. In the pelagic sector, landings of winter mackerel in the first quarter were down. The seasonal nature of the fishery meant no landings in the second quarter.

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