Annual figures released today (Thursday, 5 February) show that Lerwick Harbour handled a further increase in cargo last year, along with more vessels and higher landings of whitefish and seafood.

Sandra Laurenson, Chief Executive of Lerwick Port Authority, commented: “There was another strong performance by port users across a range of activities, with specific factors again having an influence on different sectors.

“While the current economic climate and lower oil price are a concern, there are positive signs in the fishing industry and cruise market, for example, and, combined with our ongoing plans for port development, we look forward to another busy year.”

Cargo crossing the Shetland port’s quays was up 7.6% on 2007 at 945,216 tonnes, including a rise of almost 30% in oil-related shipments to 154,657 tonnes.

The number of vessels rose by 9.4% to 5,550, with the fishing industry generating the biggest increase – up 11.4% to 2,300, followed by oil-related vessels, up 11% at 619. The tonnage of vessels operating in the offshore industry was down 4%, however, compared to 2007 when a large drilling rig and more diving support vessels used the port.

The total tonnage of all vessels last year was 9.5 million gross tonnes, down 9.2%, mainly due to the fact the roll-on/roll-off ferry, Norrona, stopped calling in 2007. Pilotage movements and the tonnage of vessels piloted also decreased.

While total fish landings held steady at 113,358 tonnes, the value was up 14.2% at £63.4 million. White fish, at 10,057 tonnes valued at £16 million, increased 16% on volume and 24% on value, for an average price up 6.7% to £1,597 per tonne.

Pelagic fish landings remained static, with the value up 13%, while deliveries to a fish meal and oil plant were down slightly. Shellfish landings were up 50%.

The ending of the Norrona service and weather disruption to cruise ship visits saw a 3.6% reduction to 130,715 in passenger traffic, the mainstay of which is NorthLink’s scheduled ferry services to the Scottish mainland and Orkney on which numbers remained near the 2007 level.

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