Harbour bosses in Shetland say diversifying their customer base has served them well during the oil and gas downturn.
Figures published by Lerwick Port Authority (LPA) show turnover in the 12 months to the end of December last year was £11.1million, compared with £11.4million the previous year.
The authority’s latest annual review said the figures show the “strength of the diversity of the port’s business”.
According to the report, oil and gas activity accounted for 25% of the harbour’s activity last year, down from 33% in 2015 and 39% in 2014.
Income from the fishing industry increased by 16% in 2016, while turnover from cruise liner business was up by 79%.
The figures also show the port made pre-tax profits of £3million last year, down from £3.8million in 2015.
Port expansion projects during the year included the Holmsgarth North Development, now renamed Mair’s Pier, and the extension of the quay at the deep-water Dales Voe base.
In the annual report, outgoing LPA chairman Brian Anderson said: “These projects are the platform for further investments by the authority and others.
“Dales Voe can deliver a UK solution for the largest offshore decommissioning projects and Holmsgarth is the new hub of white-fish activity at the port, with a new fish market set to be built.”
LPA chief executive Sandra Laurenson added: “There is no end to the ambition of the authority to build new infrastructure, with at least three different deep-water projects on the drawing board.
“However, a pragmatic approach is a defining feature to prioritising delivery.”
There were 5,036 vessel arrivals at the port last year. A total of 57,422 tonnes of fish was landed, with a value of £56.6million.
LPA’s annual review identifies the proposed replacement fish market at Mair’s Quay as the authority’s key capital project for this year.
The facility has been designed and put out to tender, but its development depends on the organisation sourcing European Maritime and Fisheries fund assistance.
If it goes ahead, the new market would double the port’s daily capacity to land fish boxes – allowing white-fish landings to grow.
It would also be better located than present facilities to suit vessels landing at all states of tide.
The review says: “Key benefits include more space for the palletising of fish for onward transport, improved welfare facilities, more efficient chilling and environmental improvements, all leading to enhanced quality of fish landed.”
Nearly 14,000 tonnes of white-fish worth £29million sold through Shetland Seafood Auction in 2016. Recent figures show 8,000 tonnes worth £17.5million were sold during the first six months of 2017.
Expectations are high that, with the UK poised to exit the Common Fisheries Policy via Brexit, this upward trend will continue.
Shetland fishing chiefs have urged the Scottish Government to take growth in landings into account when it frames the next ferry contracts.