Busy times for oil and cruise sectors

The tonnage of vessels handled at Lerwick Harbour in the first nine months of 2012 ncreased by 10% on the same period last year to 9.7 million gross tonnes and already matching the annual total for 2010.

The increase came despite a drop in the number of arrivals – at 4,058, down 2.8% compared to January-September, 2011, for reasons previously reported, including fewer fishing vessels, salmon well boats and yachts, and scheduled dry-docking of both roll-on/roll-off ferries operating on the Aberdeen/Orkney routes.

Victor Sandison, Deputy Chief Executive, Lerwick Port Authority, commented: “The tonnage rise has been generated by the increasing use of the harbour by larger oil-related and cruise industry vessels in particular, a catalyst for which has been the continuing development of deep-water infrastructure.

"It also reflects a busy time for our harbour pilots, with 1,046 pilotage movements for the period, up 14%, with 7.7 million gross tonnes of vessels piloted, up 28%, compared to the same nine months in 2011.”

With 484 oil-related arrivals, up 13.6%, and the tonnage of vessels up 50% at 2.2 million gross tonnes, the sector handled 52% more cargo, at 107,427 tonnes. Total cargo across Lerwick’s quays to the end of September 2012 rose 15.3% to 745,900 tonnes.

In a record-breaking season, cruise passengers increased by 22% to 37,572. Ferry passengers decreased by 5.4% to 100,867 – in addition to dry-dockings in 2012, the same period last year saw extra sailings for visitors attending the Tall Ships Races in Lerwick. Total passenger numbers rose 0.7% to 138,439.

Fish landings added up to 40,805 tonnes, valued at £32.7 million, down 18% on volume and 42% on value. White fish, at 7,271 tonnes, was valued at £12.1 million, up 7% on volume and down 1.8% on value, with the price per tonne decreasing by 8% to an average of £1,665 per tonne.

Pelagic fish at 33,112 tonnes was valued at £19.7 million, down 22% on volume and 53% on value. While there has been a much larger volume of summer herring landed at the port, the mackerel fishery is unlikely to match the highs of 2011 and quota remains to be fished in the last quarter of 2012.

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