Cargo handled at Lerwick Harbour increased last year to 864,735 tonnes, up 4.2% on 2004, due mainly to a continuing upturn in oil-related activity at the Shetland port.

The upturn was also reflected in oil-related vessel movements, with arrivals up 46% at 366, and in the tonnage of shipping in the sector, up 72% to 1.1 million gross tonnes.

Overall, the number of vessels using the port fell 3.6% to 5,006, with the 12.3 million gross tonnage down 3.4%, the main factor being a decrease in the roll-on/roll-off ferry sector.

Passengers using roll-on/roll off services increased by 1% to 129,427, due to higher numbers on the service between Lerwick and Orkney and Aberdeen. Passenger numbers overall decreased by 1.2% on the 2004 record to 146,959, reflecting a 15.5% drop in cruise ship passengers to 17,532 in a year when the average size of cruise vessels was smaller.

There are already 43 cruise ships booked for this year, against 48 in total in 2004, with a significant rise in passengers to around 26,000 predicted.

The importance of Lerwick as a fishing port was again reflected in the scale and value of landings. White fish reached 7,174 tonnes, valued at £8.7 million, up 12% and 26% respectively, while the average price per tonne rose 13.3%, to £1,220.

Over the two-year period 2003-2005, the average price per tonne for white fish increased by 20%, the total tonnage by 43% and the value by 76%.

Landings of pelagic fish at Lerwick and industrial landings at Heogan, on Bressay, were up fractionally last year at 103,462 tonnes (2004 - 102,008 tonnes), with the huge rise in mackerel prices pushing the value of landings up by 65% to £47.7 million.

Allan Wishart, Chief Executive of Lerwick Port Authority, said: “The mixed fortunes across various sectors in 2005 again demonstrate the importance of our strategy and continuing investment to encourage a range of activities at the port.

“While last week’s announcement on a likely severe reduction in the UK mackerel quota for this year is a cause of concern, there are positive signs elsewhere for the port in 2006, including the first major decommissioning project for the offshore industry and the rise in cruise passenger numbers.”

The number of Pilotage movements in-and-out of the harbour rose again last year, by 1.1% to 971, reflecting the larger vessels using the port.

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