Strong performances by the fishing industry and passenger services boosted activity at Lerwick Harbour in 2018, with encouraging trends in these sectors for 2019.

Statistics released by Lerwick Port Authority show there were 5,226 vessel arrivals last year, up 6.7% compared to 2017, while the tonnage of shipping entering the deep-water harbour rose 10% to12.8 million gross tonnes.

Increases were due mainly to more cruise ships, fishing boats, and roll-on/roll-off ferries on the Northern Isles route, with operator, Serco NorthLink, providing a third freight ferry for peak periods from mid-September until early November.

Lerwick and Shetland’s popularity as a destination for UK and foreign yacht crews continued, with 541 yachts arriving, a 2% increase.

Cargo in 2018 was down 10% at 832,618 tonnes, reflecting a drop in offshore industry-related arrivals and freight in the current market.

Passenger numbers were up 26.4% to 225,479, including 5.9% more on ferries at 135,143 and a 78% jump in cruise passengers to 90,336 in another record-breaking season.

Record white fish landings, at 250,246 boxes, were up 9.4% on 2017, for an average price of £2,009 per tonne, an increase of 5%. In the pelagic sector, more herring were landed over the summer, compared to the previous year, with prices comparable.

Port Authority Chief Executive, Captain Calum Grains, commented; “While we anticipate another quiet year for offshore industry activity, growing sector interest in West of Shetland and preparations for the arrival in 2020 of the Ninian Northern platform topsides for decommissioning at Dales Voe are encouraging.

“So, too, are positive trends seen last year, with a healthy outlook for fishing and an another record cruise season, with 113 vessels booked, up over 20% on 2018 and expected to bring 91,000-plus passengers.”

Construction of a replacement white fish market, at a cost of £7.6 million, is ahead of schedule, for completion in early 2020.

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