Seasonal activity underway this month (April) at Lerwick Harbour is generating traffic in two key sectors at the Shetland port, with the build-up of activity by offshore operators east and west of the islands and the opening of the annual cruise season in mid-month.

Sandra Laurenson, Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, said: “The new seasons are all the more welcome, following the anticipated lower levels of harbour operations in the first three months for various reasons. The cruise industry is set for another record year at Lerwick and the offshore projects’ season is expected to continue through to September.”

A number of companies are using Lerwick to support subsea oil and gas projects, both field development and decommissioning, in the North Sea and Atlantic, while cruise ships are scheduled to bring almost 62,000 passengers by September.

Vessel arrivals were down 16% at 838 in the first quarter, compared to the same period in 2016, due mainly to fewer fishing vessels and workboats, as well as oil-related vessels in the current industry downturn. The larger offshore ships calling meant a 20% increase in their tonnage, while the overall tonnage of shipping dropped 5% to 1.85 million gross tonnes.

Cargo, at 191,144 tonnes, reduced 6%. With the two roll-on/roll passenger/freight ferries on the Lerwick to Kirkwall and Aberdeen routes both off-service for a time for routine maintenance and upgrade, there was also a fall in footfall, with passenger numbers down 9.5% at 18,992.

Fish landings at 14,005 tonnes were valued at £13.9 million, down 28% on volume and 9% on value. The 1,875 tonnes of white fish were worth £3.4 million, down 12% on volume, but up 4.4% on value, with the average price increased 18.7% to £1,809 per tonne. In the pelagic sector, winter mackerel landings were down in volume, with the price holding up well.

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