The offshore oil and gas industry continues to spearhead growth in traffic at Lerwick Harbour, with significant contributions to the increase in the tonnage of cargo and shipping handled at the Shetland port in the six months to end-June.

The latest figures, released today by Lerwick Port Authority, show that the number of oil-related vessels arriving in the first half of the year was up 43% at 317, compared to the same period in 2011, with the tonnage rising 77% to 1.4 million gross tonnes, while cargo shipped in support of offshore operations rose by 58% to 65,308 tonnes.

Cargo for all sectors using the port was up 11.7% at 449,194 tonnes.

Victor Sandison, Deputy Chief Executive, Lerwick Port Authority, said: “The substantial increase in the figures for the offshore industry include a near-trebling in the number of diving support and offshore construction vessels, an encouraging trend given the harbour’s role in servicing development and decommissioning projects in waters around Shetland and our major, recent investment in the deep-water infrastructure to accommodate these larger vessels.”

The total tonnage of all vessels increased 8.6% to 5.6 million gross tonnes, with the 618 pilotage movements for the period up 21%, at 4 million gross tonnes of shipping – again indicative of larger vessels using the port.

The overall number of arrivals, at 2,515, was down 1.5%, with decreases in fishing vessels, salmon well boats and yachts, and in roll-on/roll-off ferries due to scheduled dry dockings of both vessels on the Aberdeen/Orkney routes.

The dry dockings are also reflected in passenger traffic, with the six-month total decreased by 1.9% to 68,075, with those on ferries down by 3.2% to 55,729. However, with the cruise season underway in mid-April, passengers were already up 4.8% to 12,346 by end-June, with the peak month July in a season which continues until September.

Fish landings to end-June added up to 19,179 tonnes, valued at £18.7 million, down 24% on volume and 30% on value. White fish, at 5,208 tonnes, was valued at £8.5 million - up 3.5% on volume and down 3.2% on value, with the price per tonne decreasing 6.5% to an average of £1,649 per tonne.

Victor Sandison commented: “White Fish landings are suffering due to days-at-sea restrictions discouraging the fleet from undertaking the more time-consuming pursuit of higher-value species, but quota remains for the autumn. The figures also reflect a quieter winter mackerel season, with quota again remaining to be taken in the autumn.”

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