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Marine / More signs of recovery at Lerwick Port Authority

Photo: Alexander Simpson

LERWICK Port Authority is reporting more signs of recovery from the Covid pandemic as traffic figures continue to improve.

There was a 25 per cent increase in oil-related vessel arrivals in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 2020.

This included a 93 per cent rise in diving and support ships.

Total cargo for the nine-month period rose 16 per cent to 647,535 tonnes, including a 13 per cent hike in shipments on the NorthLink ferry service from Aberdeen, partly due to delivery of materials for the Viking Energy wind farm construction.

Passenger numbers on the NorthLink ferry were understandably up following lockdown restrictions, while the reopening of Scottish ports to cruise ships on domestic voyages in July brought 8,642 passengers to Lerwick, compared to 1,499 in 2020 when the restrictions curtailed the season.

Fish landings earlier in the year were impacted by reduced demand in the hospitality sector, compounded by Brexit and quota challenges. The Lerwick market handled a total of 148,272 boxes, down three per cent.

There was a 10 per cent drop in fishing vessels, and fewer live fish carrier movements contributed to a five per cent fall in overall arrivals to 3,158. However, tonnage of vessels increased by nine per cent to 6,690,019 gross tonnes.

Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Captain Calum Grains said: “The continuing trend in the third quarter gives us encouragement that we are on the road to recovery from the impact of Covid, albeit on a long haul back to normal.

“Quota availability means the outlook for the fishing sector remains challenging as demand increases.

“The successful reopening of the port to cruise ships in the third quarter and strong UK and international bookings for 2022 – again with new operators and a high number of maiden calls – could potentially mean a record season and good news for Shetland.

“We continue to target additional decommissioning work for the offshore industry and progress plans to expand our facilities with a game-changing Ultra-Deep-Water Quay.

“Current activity includes supporting the installation of mooring equipment on the Penguins redevelopment into 2022, with the Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel due offshore in the summer.

“With support for the Viking wind farm project expected to continue over the next three years and offshore wind leasing round bids due to be awarded early 2022, there is the prospect of increased activity in the renewables sector at the port.”