Lerwick Harbour has followed up record passenger traffic in 2004 with a further significant increase in the first quarter of this year.

The number and tonnage of all vessels using the Shetland port and the volume of cargo handled also rose, as did the value of fish landings.

Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, Allan Wishart, said: “It has been a busy and encouraging start to the year, with the increases demonstrating both the port’s broad role in serving Shetland and the benefits of our investment in modern services and facilities.”

Total passengers at Lerwick in the first three months increased by 15% on the same period last year to 17,326. An out-of-season cruise ship – the Norwegian Coastal Voyage vessel, “Trollfjord” in March - brought 475 passengers. All the others are accounted for by the regular roll-on/roll-off services provided by NorthLink to Aberdeen and Orkney and Smyril Line in the North Atlantic.

With a wide range of cargo passing over the port’s quays, the tonnage was up 6.4% at almost 221,700 tonnes. Vessel arrivals were fractionally higher at 1,153, while the tonnage of vessels was up 8.9% at almost 2,530,000 gross tonnes, reflecting both oil-related traffic and larger vessels calling at the port.

Lerwick’s strategic position close to rich fishing grounds saw landings valued at around £23 million, up 56% on the same quarter in 2004.

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