Lerwick Harbour recorded strong performances across various key sectors in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period in 2013. However, seasonal factors impacted negatively on passenger traffic in particular.
• Cargo across the near-4,000 metres of quays increased 19% to 282,060 tonnes.
• It included 43,388 tonnes of oil-related shipments, up 60% due to movement of heavy items, such as offshore anchor chains, and increased supplies.
• Fish landings totalled 32,577 tonnes, valued at £33 million – up 40% on volume and 57% on value.
Bad weather in the North Sea hit the scheduled month-early start to the cruise season, with only one of three vessels due in March reaching Lerwick, bringing 609 passengers. With the combination of January’s poor weather conditions and biennial refits for the two roll-on/roll-off ferries on the Aberdeen/Kirkwall routes reducing sailings, the overall passenger total was down 11% at 18,532.
Lerwick remained open during the severe weather, attracting a large increase in offshore-related supply and standby vessels. With twice as many supply vessels, the number of offshore vessels was up by 13% to 137, but the tonnage of offshore ships, at 553,550 gross tonnes, was down 16%, with fewer large construction vessels early-year. Overall ship arrivals for the quarter were down 5% to 913, with the tonnage down 15% at two million tonnes.
There were 286 pilotage movements during the period – up 10%, with the 1.2 million gross tonnes of vessels piloted down 21%. White fish landings totalled 2,261 tonnes, valued at £3.4 million – down 5.7% on volume and up 4.8 % on value, with the price per tonne up 11% to average £1,528 per tonne.
In the pelagic sector, winter mackerel landings were substantially up in volume and value, with landings extending well into February. However, autumn 2014 mackerel landings are uncertain, with the large increase in available quota coinciding with what is expected to be a weak market, such as in Ukraine, Russia and Nigeria.
Sandra Laurenson, Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, said: “The January gales meant an unusual start to the year, but with spring here, the cruise and offshore construction seasons are underway. While 2013 will be a hard act to follow for activity, we have two new berths available since this time last year. Combined with new laydown sites becoming operational soon, Lerwick has plenty of capacity for offshore projects. Healthy cargo traffic and sustained fish landings are underpinning our next developments, scheduled for later this year.”