Recovery from Covid impact continues in first half

An increasingly positive performance is emerging at Lerwick Harbour as the Shetland port continues efforts to restore activity to pre-Covid-19 levels.

The latest activity report, for the first half of 2022, shows that vessel arrivals were up 11% to 2,187, with tonnage of shipping increased by 61% to 5,954,570 gross tonnes, against the same period the previous year during the full impact of the pandemic.

Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, Captain Calum Grains, said: “While there were up-and-downs across the various sectors in the first half of the year, there was a marked increase in traffic overall. With encouraging signs, we are making headway and maintaining our commitment to rebuild operations, with cruise traffic and decommissioning features of the period.

“External factors, including the huge challenges of rising fuel prices and of fish quotas availability continue to influence the pace of recovery, as seen in a 12%-drop in fishing boat arrivals.”

Cargo for the six-month period to end June 2022 added up to 437,283 tonnes, an increase of 15%, due mainly to delivery of materials for the Viking onshore windfarm project. There was a 2% rise in oil-related arrivals to 104, with tonnage up 53% at 816,051 gross tonnes, The figures include the arrival of the Ninian Northern jacket in April for decommissioning. However, offshore-related cargo was down 11% to 22,284 tonnes.

Cargo on roll-on-roll-off ferries on the Aberdeen/Kirkwall routes increased 12%.

Overall passenger numbers jumped 182% to 87,068, due to a full cruise season underway and footfall on the ro-ro routes more than doubling, with no Covid-related restrictions as in 2021.

With 111,771 boxes of whitefish landed at Lerwick, a 12% increase compared to the same period last year, landings are steadily recovering. The autumn herring fishery is currently underway, with herring again being caught close to the Islands.

The 405 pilotage movements were up 64%, with the tonnage of vessels piloted increased by 305% at 6,352,893 gross tonnes.

The positive outlook includes shipments of turbine components for the Viking project into 2023, constructive discussions with the energy industries on support for decommissioning and offshore windfarm development and another busy year of cruise visits to look forward to.

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