The latest quarterly report on activity at Lerwick Harbour underlines the growing importance of the cruise sector, with record passengers for the season and even more expected next year, and also decommissioning with a new oil-related project continuing in 2018.
Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Sandra Laurenson said: “While the effects of the oil-industry downturn will continue to be felt in 2018, there are positives going forward.
“There is the scheduled record cruise season; continuing work on Buchan Alpha and tendering for other decommissioning projects; an expected increase in the year-round roll-on/roll-off freight service as a result of the shift from containers; and the prospect of additional ro-ro passenger sailings, with no interruptions for scheduled maintenance.
“Construction of a new white fishmarket will begin in early 2018.”
Cruise passengers in the third quarter of this year brought the total for the season, which ended in September, to a new high of 50,768. The same period also saw advance bookings set the port up for a record number of vessels and passengers in 2018.
While the effects of the oil-industry downturn will continue to be felt in 2018, there are positives going forward. SANDRA LAURENSON
Overall passenger numbers for the nine months up to the end of September were static at 158,608, with passengers on the roll-on/roll-off ferries to Orkney and mainland Scotland down one per cent to 107,840, compared to the same period in 2016. Both ferries were off service for maintenance early in the year.
Figures for the tonnage of vessels using the port include the Buchan Alpha, the 15,000-tonne former North Sea floating oil production unit which arrived in Dales Voe in August for decommissioning. Work is expected to continue for another year or so.
Tonnage of all vessels, at 9.4 million gross tonnes, was down six per cent for the nine months, with vessel arrivals nine per cent lower at 3,629, due to fewer oil supply and anchor handling vessels, fishing boats, workboats and the withdrawal of the Streamline container service in August. Cargo for the nine months was down four per cent at 701,427 tonnes.
There were 166,665 boxes of whitefish landed, up five per cent compared to the same nine-month period last year, with an average price of £1,886 per tonne achieved, up 13 per cent.
In the pelagic sector there was an increase in herring landed over the summer season. Early-year mackerel landings were down but the autumn mackerel season is now under way.