Encouraging outlook across sectors
The latest traffic figures from Lerwick Port Authority show third quarter activity continued the steady growth trend seen at Shetland’s main harbour during 2023.
Vessel arrivals for the nine months to end September were up 7% at 3,994 compared to the same period in 2022, with the tonnage rising 22% to 12,398,237 gross tonnes, The biggest jump was a 37% increase in cruise vessels calling, while fishing and oil-related shipping remained steady.
Cargo for the nine months was down 6% at 648,906 tonnes, with a 14% drop in oil-related freight and 5% in roll-on/roll-off ferry shipments, when compared to the previous year. This was not surprising, given that 2022 saw exceptional tonnage due to the arrival of the Ninian Northern oilfield jacket for decommissioning and deliveries required for the construction of the Viking onshore windfarm.
Passenger numbers rose 46% to 256,455 between January and September 2023, including footfall on the ferry services to Aberdeen and Kirkwall, up 13% to 132,552. The cruise season, which ended in the third quarter, saw 123,902 visitors arrive at Lerwick, compared to 58,450 the previous year. The sector broke previous port records for tonnages, number of ship arrivals and passenger figures.
Lerwick’s contribution to marine tourism in Shetland included 594 yachts during the season, among them entrants in the Bergen-Shetland Race, 1% up on the same period in 2022.
There were 171,657 boxes of whitefish landed at Lerwick, an increase of 7% compared to the same nine-month period last year. Average price per tonne and landing volumes for the year remain steady.
Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, Captain Calum Grains, said: “Activity in Q3 continued encouraging trends seen earlier in the year and underpins our positive outlook going forward.
A reclamation project to accommodate future pelagic sector development is nearing completion. The prospects for increased whitefish landings are good. There are strong bookings for cruise traffic, with currently 156 due to call, up 17% on 2023.
“The go-ahead for the Rosebank Field hopefully opens opportunities for the port. We look forward to building our involvement in renewable energy, with floating offshore wind developments, including the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding with windfarm developer, ESB, to support its project in Shetland waters.”