Cruises, fishing help Lerwick Harbour as oil slows

Lerwick Harbour

The number of passengers using Lerwick Harbour in Shetland increased by 10% to 184,487 in 2016 thanks to a 67% rise in visitors on cruise ships to a record 50,723, latest statistics show.

Vessel arrivals in 2016, at 5,036, were up 1.3% on 2015, with the tonnage of shipping increasing by 7.4% to 12.4 million gross tonnes, reflecting the record number of cruise ships, more yachts, workboats and salmon vessels, while there were fewer fishing boats and oil and gas vessels.

Total fish landings at 57,000 tonnes were valued at £57 million, down 10% on volume — but up 21% on value.

Oil-related arrivals were down 22.5% at 402, with the tonnage unchanged at 2.6 million gross tonnes, due to larger vessels using the port.

The downturn in the industry saw oil-related cargo drop 25% to 118,869 tonnes, impacting on overall freight figures which fell 12% to 953,451 tonnes.

Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Sandra Laurenson said: “The ups-and-downs in a challenging year were as predicted and the mixed fortunes across the sectors are expected to continue.

“The cruise industry is heading for a second successive record season in 2017 at Lerwick.

“Given the circumstances, oil and gas activity met our modest targets for 2016 and will remain quieter in 2017.

“Freight tonnages and ferry passengers held up well, although reflecting completion of onshore energy projects.

“Fishing has been positive in 2016, with improved value, and anticipated growth is leading to optimism in the sector.

“Our outlook for the future remains positive, with capacity and competitiveness reinforced by completion of projects totalling £30 million, including new quays and expansion of deep-water facilities, including for oil-related decommissioning.

“Plans for a new white fish market are at an advanced stage, with a contract award due in the spring.”