New facilities underpin future activity

The latest statistics for activity at Lerwick Harbour confirm that Shetland’s principal commercial harbour experienced ups-and-downs across the range of users in 2016, with the pattern ongoing in 2017.

Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, Sandra Laurenson, commented: “The ups-and-downs in a challenging year were as predicted and the mixed fortunes across the sectors are expected to continue.

“The cruise industry is heading for a second successive record season in 2017 at Lerwick. Given the circumstances, oil and gas activity met our modest targets for 2016 and will remain quieter in 2017. Freight tonnages and ferry passengers held up well, although reflecting completion of onshore energy projects. Fishing has been positive in 2016, with improved value, and anticipated growth is leading to optimism in the sector.

“Our outlook for the future remains positive, with capacity and competitiveness reinforced by completion of projects totalling £30 million, including new quays and expansion of deep-water facilities, including for oil-related decommissioning. Plans for a new white fish market are at an advanced stage, with a contract award due in the spring.”

Vessel arrivals in 2016, at 5,036, were up 1.3% compared to 2015, with the tonnage of shipping increased by 7.4% to 12.4 million gross tonnes, reflecting a record number of cruise ships, plus more yachts, workboats and salmon vessels, while there were fewer fishing boats and oil & gas vessels.

Oil-related arrivals were down 22.5% at 402, with the tonnage unchanged at 2.6 million gross tonnes, due to larger vessels using the port. The downturn in the industry saw oil-related cargo drop 25% to 118,869 tonnes, impacting on overall freight figures which fell 12% to 953,451 tonnes.

There were 1,023 Pilotage movements, down 7.6%, while the 10.1 million gross tonnes of vessels handled rose 20% due to cruise ships and larger oil-related vessels.

Passengers through the port increased by 10% to 184,487, thanks to a 67% jump in visitors on cruise ships to a record 50,723. Numbers on the Aberdeen and Orkney ferry routes held up well following completion of the onshore Shetland Gas Plant and an end to construction workers travelling by sea - passengers decreased by 2.7% to 133,764.

Total fish landings at 57,000 tonnes were valued at £57 million, down 10% on volume and up 21% on value. The 9,800 tonnes of white fish were valued at £17 million, unchanged on volume and up 9.3% on value, with the average price per tonne up 9.3% to £1,733. Lower volumes of pelagic fish attracted improved prices for the year.

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