Positive signs after first quarter fall in traffic

The opening of the offshore season in northern waters has seen specialist oil industry vessels return to Lerwick Harbour during April to support subsea development projects. This month has also brought the first cruise ship of the year to the Shetland port for what promises to be a record-breaking cruise season.

Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, Sandra Laurenson, commented: “The positive signs are encouraging, after a fall in traffic during the first quarter. We expect the harbour to be busy servicing field developments west of Shetland through to September, albeit in a continuing depressed market. Our best-by-far cruise season yet – significantly up on last year – will run to October, with a high level of bookings already for 2017 and beyond.

“An increase in ferry passengers between January and March is also a positive sign.”

Offshore-related activity includes continuing support for BP’s Quad 204 development with the planned installation of the Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, Glen Lyon, and of the Clair Ridge topsides this summer.

Reduced operations in the oil industry generally and fewer cargo vessels and tankers impacted on traffic in the first three months, with arrivals down 2.4% at 996, and the tonnage of shipping lower by 13% at 1.9 million gross tonnes, compared to the same period in 2015. Cargo handled also fell by 13%, to 203,139 tonnes.

Ferry passengers on services between Lerwick and Kirkwall and Aberdeen increased by 4.5% for the quarter. However, the later start to the cruise season – April rather than March as last year – saw the total passenger figure down 2.5% at 20,982.

Fish landings added up 19,526 tonnes, valued at £15.3 million, up 10% on volume and 11.75% on value. They included 2,132 tonnes of white fish, valued at £3.2 million, down 2.5% on volume and 3.3% on value, with the price per tonne marginally down at an average of £1,524 per tonne. In the pelagic sector, winter mackerel showed recovery on the low landings of winter 2015.

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