The downturn in offshore industry operations, a cyclical cruise season and lower fish landings have combined to reduce activity at Lerwick Harbour in the first nine months of 2015.

Sandra Laurenson, Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, said: “We knew that the peak activity levels we enjoyed in recent years would not continue and our forecasts for the year to date are on target to match our predictions for 2015. Oil & gas activity is at the level we anticipated and overall traffic numbers have held up well.”

Vessel arrivals between January and September were virtually unchanged – up 24 at 3,874 compared to the same period in 2014, with the tonnage down 4% at 9.2 million gross tonnes, reflecting oil-related and cruise markets. Cargo handled was down 11% at 811,018 tonnes, including a 12% drop in offshore shipments.

There was an 8% decrease in passengers to 142,594, with ferry numbers up 0.7% at 112,164 and cruise down 30% at 30,043, partly as a result of cancelled visits due to poor weather at sea.

Total fish landings at 37,095 tonnes were valued at £27.1 million in the first nine months, down 20% on volume and 39% on value. White fish at 7,286 tonnes was valued at £11.1 million, down 2.5% on volume and 5.7% on value, with a price per tonne decrease of 3.2% to average £1,530 per tonne.

Winter mackerel landings were down in the early part of the year and it is too soon to judge the delayed autumn fishery now underway.

Sandra Laurenson said: “There are some positive signs. More herring has been landed in 2015 and at improved prices; a record-breaking cruise season is booked for 2016, with 70 vessels and more than 50,000 passengers, and the completion of expansion projects next year will reinforce our position as a leading centre for the fishing industry and supporting offshore subsea developments and decommissioning.”

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