Lerwick Port Authority has recently recruited three more staff to supplement its pilot boat/tug crew, a move brought about by the increase in activity at Lerwick Harbour.
Figures released by the authority show the oil and gas industry continuing to provide a huge boost to the harbour, with 534 offshore industry-related vessels berthing there in the first nine months of this year.
This number represents an increase of 10 per cent in vessel numbers and 42 per cent more tonnage, up to 3.1 million gross tonnes, compared to the same period last year. Cargo rose 28 per cent to 137,958 tonnes with modules for Shetland Gas Plant contributing to the figure.
The total for all cargoes crossing the 4,000 metres of quays at the port increased 15 per cent to 856,800 tonnes. Vessel arrivals totalled 4,179, up three per cent, with the tonnage of shipping ahead by nearly eight per cent at 10.5 million gross tonnes.
The number of large vessels needing a pilot was up 12 per cent to 1,168, with the tonnage of vessels piloted rising 10 per cent at 8.5 million gross tonnes.
There was a six per cent increase to 107,069 in ferry passengers using the roll-on/roll-off service between Lerwick and Orkney and Aberdeen. There was a forecast drop in cruise passengers – down 30 per cent at 26,477.
Between January and September, 44,512 tonnes of fish, worth £39.4 million, were landed, up six per cent on volume and 17 per cent on value.
The 8,263 tonnes of white fish were valued at £12.6 million, an increase of 13 per cent on volume and four per cent on value, with the average price per tonne decreased by eight per cent to £1,533 per tonne.
With less herring and more mackerel landed, the pelagic total was up five per cent on volume and 26 per cent on value, due to the higher proportion of mackerel.
Port authority chief executive Sandra Laurenson said the year continued to be busy with growth across almost all sectors.
Ms Laurenson said: “The high level of activity by port users is backed by our ongoing development programme, with another deep-water quay due for completion in November.
“The recent grant of £515,315 from the European Regional Development Fund will help facilitate a £1.28 million project to create three new lay down areas, extending to 45,000 square metres and required to meet industry demand.”