Lerwick Harbour continued to attract more passenger traffic in the first half of this year which also saw the trends in increasing white fish landings and offshore oil-related activity sustained.
In the six months to 30 June, the number of passengers using the Shetland port was up 3.2% at 62,105, compared to the same period in 2005. Ferries – NorthLink on the Aberdeen/Orkney service and Smyril on various routes – carried 56,885 passengers (up 2.8%), while cruise ships brought 5,220 visitors (up 7.4%) to the islands.
There was a 54% increase in the oil-related vessels to 183, with the tonnage up 62% at 514,390 gross tonnes.
The total number of vessels calling at Lerwick increased 3.3% to 2,418 for the six months. The tonnage fell by 7.4% to 5,134,398 gross tonnes, with no visits by Smyril’s roll-on/roll-off ferry Norrona in January and February, and reduced fishing vessel tonnage due to lower pelagic fish landings as a result of restrictions.
The pattern of larger, but fewer vessels at the port is reflected in the increase to 1.5 million gross tonnes (up 6.6%) in shipping which required the assistance of pilots, while the overall pilotage services reduced by 1.4%
A small increase in oil-related cargo and general freight was offset by a decrease in frozen fish exported and less fuel imported, with the total tonnage of cargo handled down 12% at 355,797 tonnes.
The strong performance by the white fish sector continued, with landings of 4,766 tonnes, valued at £6.6 million - up 62% on volume and 88% on value. The price per tonne for white fish increased 16% to £1,389.
Pelagic landings at 19,915 tonnes, valued at £14 million, were down 30% on volume, and 34% on value. Industrial landings to Heogan fishmeal and fish oil plant were down 25% on volume, but up 17% on value, with 23,668 tonnes worth £2 million.
The early cessation of the mackerel fishery at the beginning of the year was the main factor in reduced fishing industry activity overall, with total landings down 23% at 48,483 tonnes and the value down 14% at £23 million.
Allan Wishart, Chief Executive of Lerwick Port Authority, said: “The figures reflect the positive contributions being made in particular by the oil, passenger and white fish sectors and underline the significant impact of the restrictions on the mackerel fishery.”
*The second half of the year has started with a new record – for the highest number of cruise ship passengers in a single day, with 4,211 on the Costa Atlantica and the Sea Princess on 6 July – the first time two large cruise ships have called on the same day. In a season which is expected to see 43 cruise ships at Lerwick, the Costa Atlantica will return on 22 August and Sea Princess on 5 September.