Range of port users a positive factor for 2016 performance.

Activity at Lerwick Harbour was on target last year, meeting the Port Authority’s forecast of lower levels of traffic in difficult markets following two exceptionally busy periods in 2013 and 2014.

Chief Executive Sandra Laurenson said: “The severe contraction in offshore industry operations is continuing and will impact again on the overall performance in 2016. However, we will be protected to some extent by the range of users and activity at the port, a positive factor going forward.

“Cruise traffic will recover to record levels, with 70 vessels booked and 50,000-plus passengers expected. Completion of the Holmsgarth North jetty in the autumn will encourage fishing industry activity and is another step towards building a new white fish market. Completion of the Dales Voe South quay extension in summer will provide additional deep-water facilities for future offshore industry subsea project support and decommissioning,”

The 4,970 vessel arrivals in 2015 were down 2% compared to 2014, including a 20% fall in oil-related shipping, the main reason behind the reduction. Tonnage of all vessels, at 11.5 million gross tonnes, was down 5.8%, due mainly to fewer cruise vessels. Cargo handled totalled 1,082,068 tonnes, a drop of 9%, including 7.6% less shipments for the offshore sector.

A 1.4% increase to 137,529 in the number of ferry passengers on the Aberdeen and Kirkwall roll-on/roll-off routes was offset by a 30% fall to 30,430 in passengers arriving by cruise ships, for an overall total of 167,959, a decrease of 6%.

Fish landings added up to 64,000 tonnes, valued at £46.6 million – down 8.6% on volume and 24% on value. White fish, at 9,800 tonnes, was valued at £15.5 million, with volume unchanged and down 2% on value, for an average price per tonne down 3% at £1,585 per tonne.

The pelagic sector showed good increases in volume and value of summer herring, but a decrease in volume and value of mackerel for which poor international markets dragged down the overall landings and values for the year. Mackerel markets are expected to stabilise at the same level in 2016.

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