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Business / ‘Reasons to feel hopeful’ says port chief executive

Photo: John Coutts for Lerwick Port Authority

LERWICK Port Authority has seen a marked growth in the cargo handled during the first six months of 2021 as easing Covid-19 restrictions contributed to improved activity at the harbour.

Statistics published by the port this morning (Monday) show an 11 per cent increase to 367,067 tonnes of cargo handled overall, made up of significant growth on the NorthLink ferries and freight boats as well as Viking Energy related shipments.

There was a 58 per cent increase in ferry passenger footfall to 30,920, with no cruise ships arriving during the first six months of the year as Scottish ports were closed for the sector due to Covid restrictions.

Cruise ships started arriving again in July, initially with just UK passengers on board but this restriction has recently been lifted. The port has confirmed strong forward bookings for 2022.

However, there was a 15 per cent drop in tonnage of whitefish landed at the port’s new fish market. Overall box numbers were 99,733.

Port chief executive Calum Grains said: “We are gradually seeing a turnaround in port activity, with reasons to feel hopeful of continued progress if lockdowns can be avoided.”

He said discussions were ongoing with the industry over how to use the port for both onshore and offshore projects.

“More shipments for the Viking project are expected,” Grains added.

“Whitefish landings remain a concern with available quota challenges, and the herring season is now underway.

“High level discussions continue on the plan to develop an ultra deep water quay to enhance our – and the UK’s – decommissioning capabilities.”