By ROSALIND GRIFFITHS
BUSINESS is booming at Lerwick Harbour, according to figures issued this week. The harbour attracted increased traffic in the first half of 2008, with rises in cargo handled, fish landed and the number of vessel arrivals up by 17.6 per cent, compared with the same period last year.
Cargo passing through the Shetland port during the first five months of the year rose 12 per cent to 383,745 tonnes, including a 10.5 per cent increase in cargo for the offshore oil and gas and decommissioning industries at 55,228 tonnes, while the export of frozen fish was up 33.4 per cent at 34,746 tonnes.
A total of 79,340 tonnes of fish, valued at £34.3 million and up 27 per cent on volume and 23.5 per cent on value, were landed during the six months. These included 5,839 tonnes of white fish, valued at £8.9 million, up 19 per cent on volume and 25 per cent on value, with the average price per tonne increasing by five per cent to £1,540.
In the pelagic sector, there were rises in winter mackerel and spring herring landings, and the introduction of landings of blue whiting for human consumption to Shetland Catch. With a good season for blue whiting landed to Shetland Fish Products at Heogan, on Bressay, industrial landings totalling 31,683 tonnes were the same as in 2007, but with a reduction in value of 17 per cent.
Lerwick Port Authority’s deputy chief executive Victor Sandison said: “The increases in vessels and cargoes handled, with different sectors contributing to the performance, are positive trends and encouraging for the future.”
More fishing vessels saw these arrivals increase by 25.5 per cent to 1,222, contributing to the overall increase to 2,728 arrivals at Lerwick between January and June. The offshore industry also contributed to the increase, with the number of oil-related vessels up 2.4 per cent at 296, reflecting a rise in supply ships. Oil-related tonnage, at 709,162 gross tonnes, was down 22.5 per cent, however, against the previous half year when statistics included a semi-submersible drilling rig and more diving support vessels.
With the roll-on/roll-off ferry Norröna having made her final call at the port in 2007, the overall tonnage of shipping in the first half of the year was reduced by four per cent at 4.4 million gross tonnes. A reduction was also seen in the tonnage of vessels piloted at 2.19 million gross tonnes, down four per cent, although the number of pilotage movements rose 2.4 per cent to 637.