Travel and tourism made an increasing contribution to activity at Lerwick Harbour in the first half of this year, with the number of passengers using the Shetland port increasing by 8.5% to 56,008, compared with the same six-month period in 2008.

Ferry passengers saw an increase of 9.3% to 52,260. Cruise passengers were down 2.2% at 3,748, with the busy period coming now in the third quarter which will take the expected total to around 25,000 for the season.

Lerwick’s popularity as a port-of-call for yachts saw an increase of 35% in arrivals to 258.

Overall, vessel arrivals between January and June held steady, down 0.5% at 2,742, with the reduction including cargo vessels, salmon carriers, oil-related standby and supply vessels, and tankers. Although there was an increase in the tonnage of cruise vessels and diving support/construction ships, the total was down 7.7% at 4.0 million gross tonnes. The port handled 386,624 tonnes of cargo, down 16.6%.

Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, Sandra Laurenson, said: “The Shetland economy is not entirely immune to the recession, and the figures underline the importance of our providing a modern, efficient port to help facilitate users’ activities and a diversity of traffic, now and in the future.”

Fish landings totalled 37,257 tonnes, valued at £32.6 million, a reduction of 53% on volume and 5.7% in value. The 5,557 tonnes of white fish landed were valued at £8.3 million, down 5% on volume and 7.2 % on value, with the average price of £1,508 per tonne, lower by 2.2%.

In the pelagic sector, winter mackerel landings were down in volume, up in value. There
were no significant industrial fish landings at Heogan, Bressay, during the period.

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