Lerwick Harbour saw a significant increase in fishing industry activity in the first quarter of this year, with landings totalling 53,098 tonnes, valued at £26.8 million - up 17% on volume and 23% on value on the same period in 2007.

The figures include 3,105 tonnes of white fish, worth £4.5 million (up 27% on volume and 30% on value), with an average price per tonne increased 3% at £1,498. Pelagic fish landings were also higher during the three months, while landings to the fishmeal and fishoil plant on Bressay decreased.

A rise in the number of fishing vessels using the port, along with a reduction in the time NorthLink’s two passenger/freight ferries were out-of-service for annual docking, were the main factors behind a marked increase in vessel arrivals – up 24.9% to 1,356, with the tonnage up 9.5% at 2,148,343 gross tonnes.

The higher number of visits by the ferries contributed to a 3.5% increase to 16,289 in passengers using the services between Lerwick, Orkney and Aberdeen.

The port also handled more cargo in the quarter, with the tonnage up 11.3% at 238,673 tonnes, despite a fall of around 10% in oil-related shipments when compared with a very busy period for offshore industry activity in the first quarter of last year. The number of oil-related vessels arriving was down at 136, due mainly to fewer diving support ships calling.

The fewer large oil-related vessels using the port was a factor in a reduction in pilotage services, down 3% at 311, with the tonnage of vessels piloted lower by 6% at 977,251 gross tonnes.

Sandra Laurenson, Chief Executive, Lerwick Port Authority, commented: “The increased activity across several key sectors was a striking feature of the first quarter. The busy start to the year is continuing into the second quarter where we are also seeing signs of higher activity in the offshore industry.”

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