Port looking ahead to ‘better times’ having weathered worst of pandemic

Harbour traffic statistics have again highlighted the severe impact of the pandemic – though bosses are working towards “better times ahead”.

The latest Lerrwick Port Authority figures for the first quarter of 2021 show a decline in all sectors compared to the same period pre-lockdown.

They are said to show the continuing severe effects Covid-19 and the oil industry slump on Shetland’s economy. 

LPA chief executive Captain Calum Grains said: “Having hopefully weathered the worst of the pandemic and with the success of the vaccine programme and easing of restrictions, we are working towards better times ahead.

“The coming months should bring slight improvements in activity on the long haul to recovery.”

Vessel tonnage for the period, at 1,560,250 gross tonnes, dropped 20 per cent.

Arrivals were also down 11 per cent at 905, including a 53 percent fall in oil-related
shipping and an 11 percent decrease in fishing boats.

Cargo was down 8 per cent at 151,795 tonnes, including drops of 69 per cent in oil-related shipments and 4 per cent in roll-on/roll-off ferry freight.

Ferry passengers travelling between Lerwick, Aberdeen and Kirkwall, fell 65 per cent to 5,917 during the three months, due mainly to national lock-down during the period.

There were no cruise ship passengers during the quarter which usually sees a gradual start to the season – yet to begin.

The 45,232 boxes of whitefish landed at Lerwick fish market was down down 7 per cent.

In the pelagic sector, mackerel throughput fell 18 per cent.

Capt. Grains added: “The UK government’s decision to allow cruise ships into English ports from 17th May will hopefully be followed soon by the Scottish government enabling resumption, giving us a part-season and helping rebuild Shetland’s hard-hit tourism industry.

“The recent opening up of UK internal travel should benefit ferry traffic and visiting pleasure craft.

“Whitefish landings have been showing signs of recovery and port-Brexit movement of seafood exports through the EU is slowly improving.

“The offshore decommissioning market is promising and support for the renewable energy sector continues to increase.”


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