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Mixed fortunes in a challenging year for Lerwick harbour


Lerwick Harbour bosses are expecting another year of ups and downs for the Shetland port.

Chief executive Sandra Laurenson said yesterday its cruise ship business was poised for another record year but oil and gas-related activity would likely remain quiet.

Vessel arrivals across all categories during 2016 totalled 5,036, up 1.3% on the year before, while the tonnage of shipping increased by 7.4% to 12.4million gross tonnes.

The bigger figures reflect a record number of cruise ships, plus more yachts, workboats and salmon farm craft, but there were fewer fishing boats and oil and gas vessels.

Ms 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.

“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 £30million.”

The investment has gone into new quays and the 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.

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

The downturn in the offshore industry saw oil-related cargo drop by 25% to 118,869tonnes and the overall freight total fall by 12% to 953,451tonnes.

Passenger numbers at the port increased by 10% to 184,487, thanks to a 67% jump in cruise ship visitors to a record 50,723.

Lerwick Port Authority said numbers on the Aberdeen and Orkney ferry routes held up well – down by 2.7% to 133,764 – following completion of the onshore Shetland gas plant and an end to construction workers travelling by sea.

Fish landings fell 10% by volume to 57,000tonnes but their total value increased by 21% to £57million.

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