Early start to cruise season adds to first quarter traffic

Lerwick's status as a leading port for the UK white fish industry is underlined by statistics in the latest quarterly report on activity at the Shetland harbour.

Figures released by Lerwick Port Authority for the three months to March this year show white fish landed up 7.8% at 2,600 tonnes, valued at £4.8 million, an increase of 13%, compared with the same period in 2017, with the average price up 4.1% to £1,833 per tonne.

Total fish landings (white fish and pelagic) at 11,150 tonnes were valued at £12.2 million, down 20% on volume and 13.5% on value. Prices in the pelagic sector were similar to the first quarter, 2017, for lower volumes.

Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, Sandra Laurenson, commented: “With Lerwick already attracting the second highest fish landings in the UK, recent landings and healthy white fish stocks reinforce our commitment to continuing investment in the sector, including the replacement white fish market which begins construction soon.

“An early start to the cruise season is a pointer to an expected record year. The ongoing oil industry downturn again impacted across activity – with vessel arrivals and tonnage and cargo handled all down – and we continue to actively market the port for future field development and decommissioning projects.”

Vessel arrivals reduced 1.1% at 829, with the tonnage lower by 3.3% at 1.8 million gross tonnes, due mainly to shipments being switched from a regular freighter service to roll-on/roll-off ferries last summer and fewer oil vessels. Positives included more ro/ro ferry visits, as a result of shortened scheduled dry-docking for the two vessels, as well as two cruise ships in March – the 2017 season began in April.

The early start to the cruise season saw 2,662 visitors arrive, with ferry passengers for the quarter decreased by 3.0% to 18,419, for an overall footfall up 11.0% to 21,081.

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