Total cargo and shipping up in first quarter.

Lerwick Harbour’s hub role in servicing offshore industry operations in waters around Shetland is highlighted by the latest statistics which show increased traffic in the first quarter of this year, with the tonnage of oil-related cargo and shipping both more than doubled compared with the same period in 2011.

With the number of support vessels using Lerwick up 82% at 127, the tonnage rose 120% at 508,575 gross tonnes, with cargo handled up 102.7% at 24,254 tonnes.

The larger vessels operating in the offshore sector were the main reason for increased pilotage movements – 273, up 36%, with 1.1 million gross tonnes of vessels piloted, up 32%.

Victor Sandison, Lerwick Port Authority’s Deputy Chief Executive, commented: “Increasing oil-related activity in the first quarter again demonstrated the value of the investment in deep-water infrastructure, including the latest berth at Greenhead which was brought into use ahead of schedule in February to support a major North Sea project.

“While specific factors had negative influence on two key sectors – passenger traffic and fish landings – the outlook for the port is positive, with the prospect of a record cruise season, which started this month, and continuing strong offshore industry activity, backed by ongoing development of facilities for the longer term.”

The first three months saw the total number of vessels calling at Lerwick up 3.7% at 1,149, with overall cargo higher by 14.9% at 205,406 tonnes. At 17,195, the number of ferry passengers was down 12% in a period which saw both ferries sailing on the Scottish mainland route dry-docked for biennial servicing.

Fish landings totaled 13,896 tonnes, valued at £13.3 million, down 38% on both volume and value. White fish, at 2,771 tonnes, was valued at £4.2 million, up 15% on volume and 1.3% on value. The white fish price per tonne was down 12%, to average £1,521 per tonne, due to landings including a higher proportion of lower value whiting than previously.

In the pelagic sector, winter mackerel landings were substantially down in volume and price, with quota remaining to be taken in the autumn. Blue whiting landings resumed in March, following no landings in 2011.

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