Positive signs of an increase in activity at Lerwick Harbour in the first half of the year have been sustained into the third quarter, with improving performances across various sectors.
The tonnage of shipping in the nine months to September was up 10.8% at 7.2 million gross tonnes, reflecting in particular the larger oil-related and cruise ships using the Shetland port. While the number of vessels servicing the offshore industry was virtually the same at 275, the tonnage increased by 24% to 960,265 gross tonnes.
The rise in tonnage is also highlighted by 27% more pilotage movements at 834, with vessels piloted up by 38% to over 5.5 million gross tonnes.
There was a small decrease – just 15 or 0.4% - to 4,251 in the vessels calling at the Shetland port between January and September.
Victor Sandison, the Port Authority’s Deputy Chief Executive, commented: “The importance of past projects and current plans relating to Lerwick’s ability to handle larger vessels across a range of operations is again demonstrated by the latest figures which also provide further encouragement that progress continues to be made in increasing activity.”
A total of 620,828 tonnes of cargo passed over the harbour’s quays during the nine months, up 2.9% on the same period last year, with an increase in the export of frozen fish following a rise in autumn mackerel landings the main factor.
A record-breaking season for the cruise industry at Lerwick and increased usage of the ferry services to-and-from the Scottish mainland and Orkney saw passenger numbers rise 11% to 135,678. Cruise passengers were up by 27% to 30,843, and ferry traffic by 7% to 104,835.
Overall, third quarter fish landings reversed the trend in the first half of the year, resulting in landings for the nine months reaching 61,222 tonnes, valued at £48.3 million – up by 22 % on volume and 11% on value for the first nine months.
White fish landings, at 7,507 tonnes worth £11.9 million, were down 5% on volume and 3% on value between January-September, with the price per tonne increasing by 2% to average £1,593 per tonne.
With higher landings of summer herring and a large increase in autumn-caught mackerel, 51,900 tonnes of pelagic fish were valued at £34.7 million, up 25% on volume and 17.5% on value.