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Busy port

The 155 metre pilelay barge Flintstone visiting Lerwick harbour earlier this year - Photo: Mark Berry

LERWICK Port Authority has had a bumper start to the year, reporting a hefty rise in cargo, passengers and fish landings during the first quarter of the year.

Overall shipping tonnage compared to the same period in 2012 also went up significantly.

On Tuesday the port said total cargo handled was up eight per cent, passenger numbers on the NorthLink routes rose by 21 per cent, and fish landings were up 55 per cent in volume and 48 per cent in value.

Growth in the pelagic fish sector was substantial, after mackerel landings recovered following low volumes in the 2012 season.

Chief executive Sandra Laurenson said that although the number of vessels arriving at the port was down 16 per cent to 964, larger ships supporting oil and gas exploration work were using Lerwick’s deep-water facilities.

“The broad spread of activity, adding up to an encouraging start of the year, underlines the importance of the harbour’s versatile facilities and continuing development,” she said.

“With the cruise season now underway and healthy bookings already for 2014, and support for offshore operations continuing to build, the future remains positive.”