The tonnage of vessels handled at Lerwick Harbour in the first nine months of 2012 increased by 10 per cent on the same period last year.
The figure of 9.7 million gross tonnes already matches the annual total for 2010.
The increase came despite a drop in the number of arrivals – at 4,058, down 2.8 per cent compared to January-September, 2011. The drop was for reasons previously reported, including fewer fishing vessels, salmon well boats and yachts and scheduled dry-docking of both NorthLink ferries.
Lerwick Port Authority deputy chief executive Victor Sandison said: “The tonnage rise has been generated by the increasing use of the harbour by larger oil-related and cruise industry vessels in particular, a catalyst for which has been the continuing development of deep-water infrastructure.
“It also reflects a busy time for our harbour pilots, with 1,046 pilotage movements for the period, up 14 per cent, with 7.7 million gross tonnes of vessels piloted, up 28 per cent, compared to the same nine months in 2011.”
With 484 oil-related arrivals, up 13.6 per cent, and the tonnage of vessels up 50 per cent at 2.2 million gross tonnes, the sector handled 52 per cent more cargo, at 107,427 tonnes. Total cargo across Lerwick’s quays to the end of September this year rose 15.3 per cent to 745,900 tonnes.
In a record-breaking season, cruise passengers increased by 22 per cent to 37,572.
Fish landings added up to 40,805 tonnes, valued at £32.7 million, down 18 per cent on volume and 42 per cent on value. White fish, at 7,271 tonnes, was valued at £12.1 million, up seven per cent on volume and down 1.8 per cent on value, with the price per tonne decreasing by eight per cent to an average of £1,665 per tonne.
Pelagic fish at 33,112 tonnes was valued at £19.7 million, down 22 per cent on volume and 53 per cent on value. While there has been a much larger volume of summer herring landed at the port, the mackerel fishery is unlikely to match the highs of 2011 and quota remains to be fished in the last quarter of 2012.