Oil decline hits port

LOWER oil industry activity in the waters around Shetland this year has had a negative impact on business at Lerwick harbour.

On Tuesday the port authority reported a drop of 5.2 per cent to 190,500 tonnes in the amount of cargo handled during the first three months of the year.

This also caused a significant decline in the number of vessels using the harbour, down 10.9 per cent to 1,152 between January and March 2010.


Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Sandra Laurenson said: “The lower level of offshore industry operations had a significant impact on traffic, but there are some grounds for cautious optimism on the back of industry plans.

“Passenger traffic held steady in the first three months, with more than 17,300 using ferries.

“This quarter will include increased ferry passenger numbers as a result of the volcanic ash restrictions on flying and the first arrivals in what could be a record-breaking cruise ship season. Yacht races in June will contribute to visitor numbers.”

She added that whitefish landings were up in value, but continued to be affected by restrictive days at sea regulations.

“White fish, at 2,468 tonnes worth £3.7 million were lower by 24.8 per cent on volume and 24 per cent on value, while the price per tonne increased by 0.86 per cent to average £1,512 per tonne,” she said.

Pelagic fish landings meanwhile were down in volume and value due to the early migration westwards of winter mackerel.

The three month period also saw landings of blue whiting to Shetland Catch for human consumption and a limited quantity landed at Heogan, Bressay, for fishmeal.