Seasonal offshore work and the launch of a new cruise liner season have brought a welcome boost to Lerwick harbour.
The recent increase in activity coincides with new figures showing vessel visits to the Shetland port were down by 16% in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the same period last year, at 838.
Lerwick Port Authority (LPA) said yesterday business at the harbour had increased, thanks partly to a build-up of activity by offshore operators east and west of the islands.
A number of companies are using the port to support subsea oil and gas projects, including field development and de-commissioning, in the North Sea. The latest cruise ship season got under way a fortnight ago with the arrival of the first of 76 liners.
LPA chief executive Sandra Laurenson said: “The new seasons are all the more welcome, following the anticipated lower levels of harbour operations in the first three months.
“The cruise industry is set for another record year at Lerwick and the offshore projects season is expected to continue through to September.”
Earlier this month, LPA announced the new jetty at Lerwick harbour’s Holmsgarth North facility would be used for cruise ships from this summer. Although expecting three fewer liners this year, the arrival of larger vessels is expected to see passenger numbers rise by 22% from last year to a record 62,000.
The first quarter figures showed a drop in arrivals of fishing boats and workboats, as well as oil-related vessels, although calls by larger offshore vessels saw a 20% increase in tonnage. Cargo was also down, by 6%. With two ferries on the Lerwick to Kirkwall and Aberdeen routes both out of service for a spell for maintenance, there was a fall in footfall. Passenger numbers were down by 9.5% at 18,992.
First quarter fish landings at 14,005tonnes were valued at £13.9million, down 28% by volume and 9% by value.