Various factors continue to influence activity levels at Lerwick Harbour, with vessel and passenger numbers up this year, while cargo handled and fish landings have fallen.

Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, Sandra Laurenson, commented: “The positives include an excellent performance by the passenger and associated tourism sector. However, as the 14.3% decrease in cargo, including oil-related shipments, to around 603,000 tonnes demonstrates, we have not avoided some effects of the wider economic downturn. This makes the diversity and efficiency of the port’s operation and our continuing development programme all the more important.”

The latest statistics, for the nine months to end-September, show 122,102 passengers used the port, up 13% compared with the same period in 2008. Ferry passengers were up 8% to 97,956 and cruise passengers by 40% to 24,146.

Lerwick’s popularity as a port-of-call with yacht crews also saw more visiting, with the number of yachts rising 16% to a record 500.

Overall, there were 4,266 vessel arrivals at the port during the first nine months, an increase of 0.2%. Despite an increase in the tonnage of cruise ships and diving support/construction vessels, the total of 6.9 million gross tonnes of shipping was down 4.3%. The figures are also reflected in pilotage movements, down 32%, with the gross tonnage of vessels piloted reduced by 10%.

Fish landings, at 49,424 tonnes, were valued at £ 42.2 million, down 47% on volume and 3.8% in value. The biggest factor behind the drop in tonnage is Shetland Fish Products’ concentration this year on handling offal from pelagic and salmon processors, with virtually no industrial landings at the fishmeal plant on Bressay.

White fish landings at 7,222 tonnes, worth £11.9 million, were down 1.7% on volume, and 3% on value, with the price per tonne down 1.3% to £1,549 per tonne. In the pelagic sector, mackerel landings held steady, with an increase in value. Herring landings were down in volume and value.

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