Positive signs of an increase in activity at Lerwick Harbour during 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 per cent at 7.2 million gross tonnes, reflecting in particular the larger oil-related and cruise ships using the port.
While the number of vessels servicing the offshore industry was virtually the same at 275, the tonnage increased by 24 per cent to 960,265 gross tonnes.
The rise in tonnage is also highlighted by 27 per cent more pilotage movements at 834, with vessels piloted up by 38 per cent to over 5.5 million gross tonnes.
There was a small decrease – just 15 or 0.4 per cent – to 4,251 in the vessels calling at the port between January and September.
Lerwick Port Authority deputy chief executive Victor Sandison said: “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 per cent 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 per cent to 135,678. Cruise passengers were up by 27 per cent to 30,843, and ferry traffic by seven per cent 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 per cent on volume and 11 per cent on value for the first nine months.
Whitefish landings, at 7,507 tonnes worth £11.9 million, were down five per cent on volume and three per cent on value between January-September, with the price per tonne increasing by two per cent 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 per cent on volume and 17.5 per cent on value.