Peterhead Port Authority managed to maintain a highly respectable turnover of £12.5 million last year despite the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on operations.
The 2020 figure was down by just 6.5% on 2019’s earnings of £13.3 million, although higher costs due to the outbreak understandably forced profits down to £1.7 million from £2.8 million the previous year.
The overall value of fish handled through the port slipped from the record high of £210 million in 2019 to £190 million, with much reduced volumes and prices for whitefish.
And the annual gross tonnage of commercial shipping using the Port was down to 8 million tonnes from 9.4 million tonnes in 2019.
PPA chief executive Simon Brebner said: “The year 2020 was incredibly challenging, with Covid-19, a low oil price and uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
“However, through careful planning and fantastic support from our employees and the wider port community of clients, users and suppliers, we have been able to report a much stronger trading year than we had anticipated through our re-forecasting.
“Looking ahead, the final Brexit agreement and the disruption to seafood exports it has caused, along with Covid-19 restrictions, mean the whitefish and shellfish sectors will remain under pressure for the foreseeable future.
“Within the energy sector, the oil price is starting to recover and operators are beginning to tackle the backlog of maintenance and investment offshore.
“In our continuous quests to improve the harbour infrastructure and operational capabilities, the Port itself is pressing ahead with a series of substantial initiatives this year.”
Work will begin in May on refurbishing and reinstating approximately 160m of the rock revetment along Alexandra Parade, which has been damaged and eroded since it was constructed in the 1980s. The contractor is MacLaughlin & Harvey, with RPS Group the project consultants.
This £5.5 million project, involving the installation of rock armour up to 25,000 tonnes in weight, including around 300 large X-block units, will provide improved protection from overtopping seas both to vehicles on the roadway below and the nearby fish market and other properties.
The work had to be postponed last year and a series of rock-filled containers was erected along the front of the fish market to provide temporary protection.
PPA is also driving ahead with its long-term plan for net zero emissions, having secured EMFF funding for an all-electric utility van for harbour security and transfer of staff around the harbour and an electric road sweeper for quays and roads.
Funding was also gained for 30 sets of waste handling receptacles to be located around the fishing harbour, with green bins for recyclable waste and red ones for landfill material.
The Board decided to impose a standstill on all port, vessel and cargo related charges for 2021 to assist customers and stakeholders in a much needed path to recovery.
Mr Brebner said it was important to demonstrate to customers that the Port’s value proposition remained strong while recognising the challenges caused by Covid, Brexit and fish quota cuts.