The volume of fish landings in Lerwick has fallen by almost half in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 2008, according to the port authority. By value, however, the drop is much smaller at 3.8 per cent.
The development is the result of the decision by Shetland Fish Products to concentrate on handling offal from pelagic and salmon processors at the expense of industrial landings at the fishmeal plant at Heogan in Bressay.
More positively for the authority, there was an increase cruise passenger numbers of 40 per cent to 24,146 and ferry passengers of eight per cent to 97,956, a total rise of 13 per cent to 122,102.
Overall, there were 4,266 vessel arrivals during the period, an increase of 0.2 per cent. 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 per cent. The figures were also reflected in pilotage movements, down 32 per cent, with the gross tonnage of vessels piloted reduced by 10 per cent.
LPA chief executive Sandra Laurenson said: “The positives include an excellent performance by the passenger and associated tourism sector.
“However, as the 14.3 per cent 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.”
Ms Laurenson said Lerwick’s popularity as a port of call with yacht crews also saw more visiting, with the number of yachts rising 16 per cent to a record 500.
White fish landings at 7,222 tonnes, worth £11.9 million, were down 1.7 per cent on volume, and three per cent on value, with the price per tonne down 1.3 per cent to £1,549 per tonne.
In the pelagic sector mackerel landings held steady, with an increase in value, while herring landings were down both in volume and value.